Joggers in the way - driver

2013-11-19 22:06

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Pretoria - A man accused of killing five joggers with his SUV has told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria they were "in his way" and he could not avoid them.

Judge Bert Bam asked if he blamed the runners for the accident. At first Sibusiso Langa denied it, but then said: "Yes, they were in my path."

Langa has pleaded not guilty to five charges of murder, one of attempted murder and one of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Reneilwe Lesenyeho, Goalojwe Isaac Tlale, Moroesi Margaret Mokoatsi, Given Miles and Nomvula Regina Dumako died when Langa allegedly drove into them while they were jogging next to Lever Road in Midrand on 22 October 2011.

On Monday, the court heard the only survivor of the 2011 accident, Abegail Stengile, did not see what happened.

Langa, a 46-year-old mechanical engineer, said he had no sleep the night before the accident.

He and a friend from Durban went for dinner around 22:00 and then headed to a News Cafe, where they socialised with friends until after 04:00 before returning home.

Langa said he had only a glass of wine during dinner and two beers during the course of the night. He said he was in no way affected by the alcohol.

He realised he was hungry when he reached home, and drove to a take-away shop at 05:00 for a burger.

"I didn't get home. On my way back down Lever Road... that's when I met the accident," he said.

"When I came down past the Engen garage towards the bridge, I saw some people running in the road on the right side. They disappeared around the curve."

He said the accident happened after a bend in the road.

"When I was approaching the bend I came across another car coming from the front.

"When I came around the bend somewhere, all of a sudden I found people in the middle of the road. I tried to brake my car and I tried to swerve to the left," he said.

"It all happened so quickly. Then the car collided with them and they were thrown to the right side of the road."

Langa said his car was on the left side of the road when he collided with them.

"They were in my path," he said.

Accused try to speak to victims

Langa said he tried to touch and speak to the victims, but received no response. He said he did not see any survivor.

"I realised they were not wearing any visible type of clothing. I was surprised about the number of them lying there on the ground," he said.

"I was shocked to see what had happened. I just couldn't believe it. How did this happen?... It was a terrible thing. I started blaming myself. Why did I leave home?"

Langa said he was trembling and did not know what to do.

He could not explain how his car ended up in the middle of the road if he was driving on the left side.

He denied trying to flee the scene and said he had walked away because people, including a metro police officer at the scene, were saying abusive things to him.

"This was a very terrible accident. I felt too terrible," said Langa.

"I've tried to reach out to the families, but they refused."

Langa said his wife and children returned to the US after the accident and he could not visit them because his passport had been withheld.

He had also lost contracts because people did not want to be associated with him.

Taking responsibility

Prosecutor Mervyn Menigo put it to Langa that he did not seem to take responsibility for the accident and that he could not blame the joggers' families for refusing to talk to him.

"I can understand the anger and pain they're going through... I lost my father and brother through a car accident. I know the pain they're going through. I understand," he said.

Langa said he did not agree with the State's version that the accident had happened on the right side of the road, that he was drunk and driving at 113km/h in a 60km/h zone.

He could not remember at what speed he was driving, but said it was unlikely that he would have been driving too fast because he was not a fast driver and had never had an accident before in his life.

He said it was a coincidence that another driver saw a motorist in an identical silver SUV driving erratically in the same area at the same time.

Menigo put it to Langa that all the evidence pointed to him speeding and losing control around the curve, and then moving into the oncoming lane.

Langa suggested that people at the scene might have moved evidence such as debris and paint flakes to the right side of the road.

The trial continues.

Read more on:    johannesburg

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