Driver pleads not guilty to 24 counts of murder

2013-11-06 23:10

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Mbombela - A driver charged with the deaths of 24 farmworkers when his truck collided with a goods train in Mpumalanga denied guilt on Wednesday.

George Mandlazi, 33, was asked to plead to 24 counts of murder, one of negligence, and another of reckless driving when he appeared in the Nelspruit Circuit of the High Court in Pretoria, a Sapa correspondent reported.

"I have not killed anyone. I plead not guilty," said Mandlazi.

His lawyer Melanie Erasmus asked the court to postpone the matter to 11 November for Mandlazi to file an explanation of plea.

"I’m asking the honourable court to not ask why the accused pleads not guilty and to postpone the trial to 11 November so we can file an explanation of the plea which my client just made," she said.

Judge Nomsa Khumalo granted the postponement.

Mandlazi is out on bail of R3 000.

He was driving the truck when it collided with a coal train between Hectorspruit and Malalane on 13 July last year.

He was initially charged with culpable homicide, and then murder.

The charges were reduced to culpable homicide during his first court appearance, but were later changed back to murder.

Nineteen people died on the scene of the accident, and five others died in hospital or on their way to hospital.

Mandlazi was rumoured to be dead after a nurse found him unconscious, but he had fainted after being told how many people died in the accident.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  accidents

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