Cape Town driver guilty of kids' deaths

2011-12-12 13:05

Cape Town - Taxi driver Jacob Humphreys was found guilty on Monday of murdering 10 schoolchildren who were killed when his minibus was hit by a train at a level crossing at Blackheath outside Cape Town last year.

Western Cape High Court Judge Robert Henney found Humphreys, 55, guilty on 10 charges of murder and four of attempted murder.

Relatives of the children who had packed into the public gallery gasped as Henney delivered the verdict. Some burst into tears and sobbed.

Humphreys remained expressionless and kept his hands clasped in front of him.

He faced 10 charges of murder, or alternatively manslaughter, as well as four of attempted murder, or assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

‘No other conclusion’

Humphreys was transporting children to school in a taxi on August 25 last year when he overtook a row of cars and ignored safety signals at the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath.

A train hit the taxi and 10 of the children died.

Henney said he not could think of a better example of a person being able to foresee the consequences of their actions when he shot through the level crossing.

"What other conclusion could a person reach?"

Outside court relatives of Liesl August, 11, Cody Erasmus, 15, Jody Phillips, 13, Reece Smith, 7; Nolan February, 13, Michaelin de Koker, 11, Jason Pedro, 14, Nadine Marthinissen, 16, Jeane-Pierre Willeman, 13, and Jade Adams, 10, cried and embraced each other.

"I am happy that justice has been done," said Vanique Skippos, a relative of Marthinissen.

On Friday prosecutor Susan Galloway told the court that Humphreys could have foreseen the consequences of skipping through a closed train level crossing.

She said she would show Humphreys had subjectively foreseen the possibility of his act causing death and was therefore insensitively reckless.

Strange loss of memory

Defence lawyer Johann Engelbrecht said during the trial that Humphreys suffered from retrograde amnesia and could not remember anything from the time his taxi stood still at the Buttskop level crossing to the time he woke up and was taken to hospital.

Henney said it was strange that Humphreys remembered the moment just before the accident but nothing else.

He said if Humphreys' vehicle had stood still behind another vehicle, it should have been that vehicle which was hit.

The judgment comes as the National Prosecuting Authority takes a tougher stance against reckless drivers.

Less than two weeks ago, the NPA announced its decision to charge people responsible for fatal car accidents with murder instead of culpable homicide.

The authority’s reasoning is that if it can be proved that a motorist foresaw the possibility of an accident, but took the risk anyway, there is a form of intention to cause death.

Humphreys will be sentenced in February next year.

  • StarStruck - 2011-12-12 13:10

    Not even the truth will help this guy anymore. Lost conciousness - sevoet jou moordenaar!!!

      methedex - 2011-12-12 13:13

      EISH!!! Papa wag vir djou :)

      GARBADGEDAY - 2011-12-12 13:17

      hopefully this will wake up some taxi drivers there should be a special license for taxi drivers that demands a difficult exam and annual tests. We can't play with lives

      Peter - 2011-12-12 13:24

      @Garbadgeday. The taxi drivers can not read let alone drive, and subsequently will not read about this case or the punishment, so they still will not care a Sh*t

      Braam - 2011-12-12 13:25

      What he should do is commit HARAKIRI and show us all he is a man and that he is sorry for what he did

      procold2 - 2011-12-12 13:50

      why so long between now and sentencing, let him start now he will appeal and still be out over xmas.

      JohnnyBGood - 2011-12-12 14:30

      NOW: we need to take on the 'blue light brigade'... You skip a taffic light and the same happen, you will face the penalty. Like this poor kid who is brain damaged in Roodepoort area.

      Ray - 2011-12-13 11:46

      Just remember,on this basis,if you drive with worn tyres,you will also be guilty of attempted murder.Murder requires "intent" or "mens rea"-the USA has a charge which fits this situation better-"reckless endangerment"-under these circumstances,when suicide was against the law,he could have also been charged with attempted suicide.Don't get me wrong-I do not sympathise with him,but the charge of murder rather than manslaughter doesn't make sense.Many of the stupid mistakes many of us make could be forseeable that it could result in loss of life.For instance,I drove straight over a stop street a few weeks ago because it wasn't there the last time I drove along that road and I simply did not notice-it is foreseeable that this could have resulted in loss of life and would my defence of being unaware of it be accepted as a defence against intent? Stupid,yes,but not attempted murder.

      Ray - 2011-12-13 12:00

      And using a cellphone when driving? Attempted murder?

  • Larry - 2011-12-12 13:10

    About time. Now the families may get some closure.

      tbooze - 2011-12-12 13:38

      he was just buying time because he knew either way he is going down ,that R20 000 bail money could have done him good in prison now they will be tossing his salad

      Zelda - 2011-12-13 09:45

      And with that he bought a 1 way ticket to hell

  • aarchaic - 2011-12-12 13:11

    how can you "lost consciousness" and go on the side passed many cars with out hitting one of them and then just stop on the crossing? BS!! Justice system turned out for the positive in this case. still sad for each one who lost a child.

      Craig - 2011-12-12 15:05

      That is what the lying bastard lawyers most probably told him to say.

  • MastersVoice - 2011-12-12 13:11

    Interesting - so now a precedent has been created for trying these kinds of accidents for murder rather than culpable homicide.

      Mike - 2011-12-12 14:10

      It isn't a precedence it has been our law since the outset, it's called dolus eventualis and there are strict grounds to prove intent and he obviously met those principles.

      Mike - 2011-12-12 14:10

      Precedent I mean.

  • Tammy - 2011-12-12 13:12

    Hope it sets a precedent!

  • Kala - 2011-12-12 13:12

    "Defence advocate Johann Engelbrecht said his client did not intentionally break the law" What a Tjop!!!!!! I think Humphries' brain blacked out every time he got into a taxi. Now get on the bus for your last journey Humphries and may you never feel freedom again.

      spookhuis - 2011-12-12 13:29

      "blacked out" it. ;)

      fargone - 2011-12-12 13:51

      I cannot help but wonder how the defense attorney sleeps at night, does he really believe that the accused "blacked out" ... what people will say for money! How can he defend someone who is not telling the truth with a clear conscience.

      Kala - 2011-12-12 16:37

      I wonder if "Blacked out" is a politically correct statement.

  • Micheal - 2011-12-12 13:16

    ja....lost conciousness...sure pal. For sum reason taxi drivers think they are above the law of us common folk. where i live we have had 2 accidents at the exact same traffic light, both accidents were taxi drivers, both skipped the light and both killed a person after crashing up onto the pavement. these morons should be made an example of!!

      Hendrik - 2011-12-12 13:25

      Daily one sees it on our roads. How it is just us "stupid people" that obey road signs and traffic laws. Taxi drivers are far too clever to be bothered with such trivial matters as road signs and laws and rules. Does not help the parents but at least it serves him right. Hope to see many more findings like this and maybe, just maybe the message will get through to those b%^&$rds. They don't give a s^&t for any other road user, or the safety of their passengers.

  • vlarismam - 2011-12-12 13:18

    A South African Minibus Taxi driver "not intentionally breaking the law"? WTF - I've never heard of/seen such an animal!

  • Monique - 2011-12-12 13:18

    Oh...but he did! Ignoring all the warnings-wtf if you cross the road you check for cars, if you cross the train tracks you check for trains! MY GOODNESS. The legal team found their inspiration from the Jub Jub case-LOL what a joke.

  • HermannH - 2011-12-12 13:25

    Sentence only to be passed in February 2012! Why not give him his deserved Christmas box now?

      Sharon - 2011-12-12 13:45

      @ HermannH I was thinking the same, why does he get time to spend with his family Christmas time when his victims cant be here with theirs.

      Nitroman - 2011-12-12 15:59

      not to worry let him have this one cos there is plenty coming that they will have to visit him over Xmas. Thats now if pappa will allow him visiting hours..

  • CarinWynbergen - 2011-12-12 13:26

    He sounds like his friend that drives a MINI...

  • andre.duminy - 2011-12-12 13:28

    Aaagh Whateva !!! so this going to bring back that poor families children ? See these reckless taxi's on the road every day. Why cant the authorities do something about them now before they kill innocent kids.

      Jerolan - 2011-12-12 13:32

      well at least this is a step in the right direction. This case sets a precedence going forward

      Nitesh - 2011-12-12 13:33

      they too scared and wayne minaar shud wake up, the useless cun!....more worried about nailing drivers that actually care....

  • Barry - 2011-12-12 13:29

    Not sure about the Murder part - but this guy must be put away forever What about the Taxi crash at Harrismith ? 30 people killed in one smash !- here again driver attitude - this bloke must have known the taxi could not handle safely with more than 10 extra passengers than the certified carrying capacity and pulling a trailer - what to do ? how do you get it in to Taxi owners and drivers heads - thses are people and not cargo that is being carried - but hey ! this is africa !!!!! Condolences to family members who lost their loved ones

      Kevin - 2011-12-12 15:22

      Agree Barry...but the law should go after the owner and attach everything/sue the bliksem.His negligence in not marshalling and enforcing control with his drivers,have allowed this incident to occur.

  • Jerolan - 2011-12-12 13:31

    Now that is Justice

  • braamc - 2011-12-12 13:36

    Good, now get the rest of the murderous taxi drivers

      Narike - 2011-12-12 13:39

      And their bosses who drive them to meet impossible quotas so they can fill their greedy pockets

  • Nyati_Photo - 2011-12-12 13:38

    I hope he gets his dues in prision and that his life there is a living hell. Well done to the justice system. Lock the bastered away forwever !!

  • Johnnie - 2011-12-12 13:39

    Cannot remember, my bloody foot.If he can remember stopping then he knows what happened. I was also in an accident 55 years ago, and I still do not know anything about the accident,but the last time I remember about the trip was about 10 miles before it happened.That man should be put away for life without parole, because he did that many times before.

  • Granville - 2011-12-12 13:42

    Hope that the families got closure today and is happy with the outcome, now for another few months for sentencing,i actually feel for the guy, what a disastrous holiday he will have, hope its an eye opener to other drivers!!!

  • Gerald - 2011-12-12 13:46

    "Russian Roulette" the song we played at Cody's funeral. Ironic that the prosecutor referred to that specific gamble too. "Too many people gamble with life" and he gambled with 15 lives, including his own. Thanks for this justice, thanks for pulling the trigger on him. It won't bring Cody and the others back, but it gives a sense of closure to us, the family and the friends.

  • Gavin - 2011-12-12 13:51

    The sad thing is that your average taxi driver won't even be aware of this as he is too busy killing people.

  • Janice - 2011-12-12 13:53

    Good outcome I think.

  • Njabulo - 2011-12-12 13:55

    Good thing, this should serve as a a stern warning to other school-kids transporters, bus and taxi drivers who continue to drive with plain disregard of road rules.

  • desertratbkf - 2011-12-12 13:57

    Let this be a lesson to the other reckless taxi drivers around the country!!!!!

      Kevin - 2011-12-12 15:25

      They are a law unto themselves,hence this will not feature into th future.

  • Bart - 2011-12-12 13:58

    first well done, i hope he rots in hell

  • aardvarkie - 2011-12-12 14:08

    Throw away the key.

  • emoneyvalu - 2011-12-12 14:12

    Theyll never learn from this. Always think they above the law. They just pay off Traffic officers and drive away. That is were corruotion starts withour traffic and metro departments

  • Michael - 2011-12-12 14:12

    Lets take him to China to have him executed

  • Michael - 2011-12-12 14:12

    Lets take him to China to have him executed

  • frangelico - 2011-12-12 14:14

    @StarStruck,This man was honestly drunk,This happens daily, Our traffic force is so corrupted will only pull those off the road& for a fee let them off.As far as I am concerned I have family that means the world to me.Love u guys from the

  • Samuel - 2011-12-12 14:15

    Justice will prevail

  • Anthony - 2011-12-12 14:26

    Murder requires pre-meditation. Something wrong here: surely should be manslaughter??

      Bob - 2011-12-12 19:52

      Anthony, if you are driving in your car and you see the lights are red. You decide to drive through anyway. That is pre-meditation. Is it not?

  • frangelico - 2011-12-12 14:29

    spyros & katty lots of luck on the birth of y0ur bambino na sas zizizi kai xronia na thosi oh theaos. oUR love as always UNCLE NICKY & AUNTY HELEN

  • Derk - 2011-12-12 14:37

    Sentence him now why the hell must we wait till Febuary

  • frangelico - 2011-12-12 14:42

    Hang HIm Hang Him high.

  • James - 2011-12-12 14:51

    South Africa is the only country that has the death penalty for the innocent, it's "T"he "A"frican e"X"termination "I"ndustry

  • Archford.Singende - 2011-12-12 14:53

    SA's Taxi drivers1!!

  • EyesEars - 2011-12-12 14:59

    They want to make an example of Humphreys, but what about the hundreds of overcrowded taxi's specially on long distances? Two wrongs can never make a right and by trying to set an example while others get off free? Makes one wonder.

      Gail - 2011-12-12 17:42

      I have to ask how iften the taxi driver himself survives an accident with multiple deaths. There seems to be at least one a week and I wish that they would tell us whether the driver actually survives and if so does he then qualify for disability because of injuries sustained? I believe that the taxi associations should be held responsible for financial compensation to the victims families because if the driver goes to jail the owner of the taxi just gets away with it and it is his ultimate responsibility to ensure that his drivers do not take risks such as they do. Put the owner out of business and you would soon see them clean up their act with regard driver targets and their qualifications and abilities to be on the road carrying human life.

  • Peter - 2011-12-12 15:11

    An extremely sad story. Condolence to the family. Query murder, as it was not premeditated but sheer stupidity? Sentence should be passed immediately, but maybe he will be given time to appeal, or contract SHAIKELEBIITIS.

      Gail - 2011-12-12 17:47

      I believe that if you are in charge of a vehicle and there is a line of traffic stopped because of an approaching train and you decide to pass all these vehicles and then attempt to zig zag through the booms that is premeditated. If he doesn't remember then perhaps he was drunk in which case there is a criminal element involved in the crime since driving a PDP vehicle under the influence is a criminal offence. He'd probably done it before and got away with it but this time he is going to pay with his own life.

      Bob - 2011-12-12 19:59

      Depends how you define 'premeditated"? To me it means you think about an action before you act upon it. This guy saw a line of cars stopped at a railway level crossing. The lights were flashing, warning of an oncoming train. He decided to go past everyone else and beat the train. It may be stupid, but it was nevertheless "premeditated".

  • phakiso.shadrack2 - 2011-12-12 15:25

    Taxi drivers they dont care about other peoples lives...

  • Rainbow - 2011-12-12 15:45

    I hope the sentance is harsh. This is will be a a good example to ALL drivers out there especially those transporting children.

  • Gail - 2011-12-12 17:24

    Now this is zero tolerance! Life without parole or any ccess to contact with his friends and family 10X over. Bury him alive in a cell forever with no TV or right to medical care should he become ill just as he never gave a thought to the lives of those 10 children who were buried last year already. No chance of appeal. Now I hope that the guy who wiped out the 5 joggers and Jub-Jub and his partner in crime get the same punishment and likewise any bluelight convoy person who has caused the death or permanent disability of a lawabiding citizen get the same kind of justice meted out to them.

  • mzeke.ramoroka - 2011-12-12 17:37

    May the young souls rest in peace

  • Barry - 2012-02-22 09:34

    The definition of a mass murderer is someone who murders 4 or more people. Therefore someone who murders 10 children is by definition a MASS MURDERER. You don't get a suspended sentence for MASS MURDER, you should get, at minimum, a sentence of 10 LIFE TERMS.

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