Money for killing 10 kids not an option: State

2012-02-20 16:52

Cape Town - Offering money for killing 10 children instead of doing jail time was not an option for minibus taxi driver Jacob Humphreys, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway said murdering children and the attempted murder of others was a serious offence which had a ripple effect on society and could not be played down.

"The train driver and those who waited [at the level crossing] would be affected. And Metrorail has to carry the costs of repairs [to the railway line]," she said.

"The very community which Mr Humphreys was trying to help would in effect be punished by this crime."

Criminologist Claire Wolff had suggested in a pre-sentencing report, in mitigation of sentence, that Humphreys serve a suspended sentence of five years on condition that he offer monetary compensation for medical expenses and schooling, take part in restorative justice and submit to correctional supervision.

Little money left

Galloway said the pre-sentencing report had indicated Humphreys had little money left after all his expenses.

Added to this, it was believed that he had sold both his vehicles as well as one of his properties to pay for his legal representation.

Humphreys sat quietly through the proceedings with his arms folded, often listening with his eyes closed.

He was found guilty of murder and attempted murder. While taking children to school on August 25 2010 he overtook a row of cars at the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath, ignored safety signals and proceeded over the tracks. A train hit the taxi and 10 of the children were killed. Four others were seriously injured.

Wolff said she could not reach a definite conclusion as to what may have motivated Humphreys to commit his offences.

She said a conclusion had not been possible as Humphreys had no recollection of the event.


She had instead listed relevant theories and factors that may have influenced Humphreys before he crossed the railway line.

Judge Robert Henney said: "Human nature is not something that can be pinned down easily. Your experience [as a criminologist] is based purely on theory and not practice."

Wolff told the judge she believed Humphreys was remorseful, having expressed the desire to meet with the victims' families.

"He has genuine sorrow for what he has done and is accepting responsibility. He's not just sorry for being caught, but also for his actions. I do not believe Mr Humphreys is a danger to society."

Henney said the accused had never acknowledged his guilt, which was a precursor to restorative justice.

He added that if he gave a suspended sentence to Humphreys, it would send out the message to drivers that they could get away anything. Pre-sentencing proceedings continue on Tuesday.

  • Heini - 2012-02-20 16:56

    This story needs some kind of positive ending, and I dont think that a "fine" is plausable......

      Mannie777 - 2012-02-20 17:26

      “sitting with his eyes closed … Listening” “not showing any remorse....” From the very beginning I saw one word and one word only = ARROGANT. The courts will have to show this man how serious his actions was – moreover what the repercussions are for what he has done! End of story.

  • Justin - 2012-02-20 16:57


  • dave.leverton - 2012-02-20 17:01

    How much money would Humphreys accept if his children were murdered ? Sorry, you can't buy your guilt away.

  • Burtfred - 2012-02-20 17:04

    Jail for life is the only appropriate sentence. This will satisfy society's need for retribution; rehabilitation of the offender and deterrent against future similar offences.

  • SirFGrumpy - 2012-02-20 17:05

    What an absolute crock of 5hit. You do the crime, you do the time. Burn in hell scumbag.

  • Randomhero6661 - 2012-02-20 17:05

    jail time sonny! enjoy enjoy and enjoy!

  • Stefan - 2012-02-20 17:06

    Bring back the rope.

  • Julie - 2012-02-20 17:18

    Perhaps this should serve as a lesson for people who blatatly ignore signs while approaching a level crossing, and not stopping at the crossing itself, but seem to think they are immune from such acccidents. STOP!!!! LOOK!!! LISTEN!!! Too many people get kiled or injured by ignoring this rule, whether driving, or wanting to cross the line on foot. And it often happens that the public blame Transnet for these accidents, whereas the victims have only themselves to blame... STOP!!!! LOOK!!!! LISTEN!!!!

  • Robin - 2012-02-20 17:24

    Common gangster from the cape flats and now like an angel in court....the wheel turned boet.

  • mike.vanzyl1 - 2012-02-20 17:39

    Have you all gone crazy? The driver should never have been charged with murder, but with culpable homicide (manslaugther). The legal definition of murder is different to what he did. I therefore do not understand how they could make a charge of murder stick. And if the driver narrowly missed the train, or if the accident only resulted in injuries; would the state have charged him for attempted murder? You can be sentenced to do time in jail for manslaughter, but previously you could be sentenced to death for murder (or attempted murder, depending on the circumstances). Think people! You drive your car with passengers; an accident happens, and one of the passengers dies in the accident. Next thing the state charges you with murder because, they say, you should have foreseened that an accident could happen and that somebody could then be seriously or fatally injured... Charge murderers with murder, and the rest with manslaughter. Be careful in what direction the judiciary is pushed - especially in this country.

      dave.leverton - 2012-02-20 17:48

      It would be culpable homicide, not manslaughter. If you run a boom that is closed because a train is approaching then the chance of a disaster is a given. This is not 'negligence' nor 'an accident' - just pure arrogance and bloody-mindedness.

      Bahle Mathe - 2012-02-20 17:56

      Mike I'm sure you know that intention(dolus) doesn't have to be direct to complete the elements of murder, It can also be indirect but in this case neither of those were present here we dealing with Dolus eventualis where this driver foresaw the possibility of a collision with the train which would result to injuries or death of the occupants in his vehicle but unreasonably dismisses such a possibility. That in law constitutes murder

      antoinette.jordaan - 2012-02-20 18:30

      Sjoe, some serious legalese........This guy knew the chances were good that he could be hit by the train. But, he was arrogant enough to think that a) it wouldn't happen to him and b) he could miss it. Are you kidding me? That arrogance killed 10 kids. I don't care what fancy terms you want to tack onto him. He knowingly drove over that damn crossing... murder in my books.

      mike.vanzyl1 - 2012-02-20 18:32

      Bahle Mathe: So soon all fatal accidents will result in murder cases built around dolus eventualis! I do not condone what happened, I want you to look at the bigger picture - see my sentence on "attempted murder"

      Bahle Mathe - 2012-02-20 19:13

      I saw your line on attempted murder and I must say it does create a slight if not a (major) doubt in the argument of pursuing these offenses on dolus eventualis however we cannot negate the fact that a sanction for Culpable homicide is a slap in a wrist. There are different degrees of murder. To treat individuals who grossly and unspeakably disregard human lives with the hope that they will not obtain tougher sentenced under the cloud of culpable homicide. At the same time we cannot compare such murders to those referred to in schedule 6 of the CPA(serial killers, conspires armed robbers) but still they must be treated as murder to serve as a deterrent effect. I get your point but that's how I think we would decrease these type of crimes

      Ken - 2012-02-20 21:03

      What was his intent, surely he did not intend to kill himself and the children in the taxi. Culpable homicide, not murder. He still deserves to suffer a term of direct imprisonment though.

      John - 2012-02-20 22:33

      culpa lata est dolus - Recklessness is equivalent to intent in law

      Bahle Mathe - 2012-02-20 23:33

      Ken I think you confuse intention and motive. In this case this guy was aware that there was an oncoming train, there were more than two cars in front of him, He knew that he was not supposed to cross at that point in time and that should he do so he runs a risk of collision with the train but he reconciled with that fact therefore taking a decision not only for himself but for the children as well.

  • Jacques - 2012-02-20 17:41

    Mr. Humphreys epitomize the arrogance, carelessness and lawlessness of Taxi Drivers in general. They see themselves above the law and have no fear for rules, laws or the authorities. They also intimate other road users and do no mind to injure or kill others in the persuit of business. I honestly hope that the court sentences Mr. Humphryes to many, many years behind bars. Those kids could have been yours or mine.

  • Bahle Mathe - 2012-02-20 17:44

    I applaud this new direction taken by prosecutors why charge them with Culpable homicide when they can be convicted for murder, I mean too many people have been getting away with Murder(literally) because they all plead guilty to involuntary men slaughter(culp) whereas sometimes they voluntary intoxicated themselves prior to drivin. I hope he gets ten years 4 each child, JUB JUB you are next!!!

  • Rip - 2012-02-20 18:44

    What would have happened if he had been killed in the accident too? Was he suicidal and decided to take a lot of kids with him? I don't think so. There is something missing in this story. What made him decide to overtake all the other vehicles and run the boom? Was he pressed for time? Late for school? And horribly misjudged the situation? Who knows? But I don't see him as a murderer.

      Bernadette Amir - 2012-02-20 19:42

      he was used to doing this, this is what made him do it

      Louise - 2012-02-20 21:49

      He might have done this before, misjudged the distance, broke the law, but I really don't think his intention was murder - this is pure sensation seeking on the part of the media and opportunity for some contributors here to vent. Put yourself in his shoes, the guilt he must feel, and the unreasonable shame this has brought on his family. Forgive!

      Julia - 2012-02-21 08:40

      He is a murderer – no doubt whatsoever in my mind, no matter what legal definitions anyone can throw at us. I'm sure I read that he'd done exactly the same thing many times before (the surviving kids testified along those lines or something), so he was playing Russian Roulette with their lives. Louise.. whatever guilt he feels and whatever shame he's broughr on his family is NOTHING compared to what the families of those kids will feel for the rest of their lives.. and the unspeakable trauma everyone who witnessed the crash must have suffered. He deserves the toughest punishment there is... stuff forgiveness, frankly – he's not worthy of it.

  • Nick - 2012-02-20 18:47

    From a different perspective,if he really doesn't remember the accident - the moments leading up to it, the accident and much of what followed - how moral is it to punish him severely? If you wake up tomorrow in Hospital and are charged with murder but you have no recollection of it, it would be as if you're being charged for something you didn't do.

      dave.leverton - 2012-02-20 19:04

      There were many witnesses queued at the booms who saw him jump the queue and sneak through the gap next to the boom. And according to them it wasn't for the first time.

      Bernadette Amir - 2012-02-20 19:20

      I do not believe that there should be leniency showed simply because u don't remember, what if case closed you got away with it and suddenly the following day u remember *conveniently*.

      Nick - 2012-02-21 02:19

      Bernadette, I agree. It is too easy to say I forgot, but it is difficult to prove that you don't remember. And the buren of proof for that should lie on the accused. However, justice should not just be punitive, but restorative, seeking to bring healing to the victims and the perpetrator. I think being too severe won't do anything for either party. Of course, I just read in another article that the judge isn't convinced that he can't remember which makes this point moot.

  • Bernadette Amir - 2012-02-20 19:31

    @Thulani, I am not white, I am a 30 year old black woman who have one child and if lost especially in the manner that these 20 parents have lost their kids, would go mad. And to think theirs people out there like you who simply call this mistake and would like to dismiss it as such makes me angry cause this shows how many of you would actually do this idiotic mistakes that has now left so many in tears

  • May - 2012-02-20 19:55

    This has got to serve as a lesson to all those idiot taxi drivers (all drivers) that we CANNOT drive like fools and get away with it!! The rest of his life to be spent behind bars!!

  • Brigida - 2012-02-20 20:09

    Time was the factor that ruined the lives off all these families involved.Being a father that man was aware how important ontime was for schools and by avoiding the children to been late he made a wrong decision by put his life and the passengers lives in danger.The intention was good but the actions very irresponsible.Everybody find themselves sometimes or like parents every morning rushing to get the children ready and themselves to beat the clock and in the rush forget sometimes very inportant isues and made plenty mistakes just to beat the clock.Unfortunately the clock has turned the time for punishment but not for murder a murderer put not his own life in danger.

  • William Sekgatja - 2012-02-20 20:12

    its very unfair for individuals 2 persecute this accident remains an accident and no matter wat that can neva change. so wat eva the sentence he gets it will be in the interest of Justice.

  • lhfick - 2012-02-20 20:30

    Nothing we can do can bring the kids back, but this I can tell you! My son passed on at the age of 12 due to the fact that he was terminally ill for a period of seven years. You think you can prepair yourself for that day, no! In this case I did not want to comment, but I need to. Mike read that definition again please! The accused had all the time in the world to stop at that crossing. His negligent behavior was of such an extent that it warrants the charges that he is being trailed for. If he is found guilty he can still appeal, if leave to appeal is granted! The time has also come that all of us realize that a vehicle and the driver of it is responsible, accountable for his or her actions! Respect those crossings even if they are green,LOOK, because it is a train that might hit you and the only thing worse than that, is losing a child!

      Gerald - 2012-02-21 07:43

      He didn't want to stop, he didn't think, he was full aware of what he was doing. He drove past cars waiting at the crossing, he drove my brother and his friends to their deaths. If you didn't see the mangled bodies at the scene you won't know how horrible it was to see my younger brother laying there and the others, still asking "help us", "mummy help us"!

      Julia - 2012-02-21 08:48

      Alexander, love and condolences to you and your family from a stranger. I can't imagine what you are going through. And to you lhfick, for your loss.

  • Ken - 2012-02-20 20:58

    I do not believe that the accused should ever have been charged or convicted of murder. Culpable homicide yes and he does deserve a jail sentence but not for murder.

  • Renier - 2012-02-20 23:03

    This man did not kill the children by accident! He deliberately made specific maneuvers in order to get to past the boom gate. This was no accident. It is not the same as driving trough a red light "by accident". Therefore the murder charge. This man should receive the full punishment prescribed by the law.

      lhfick - 2012-02-20 23:24

      Thank You! Therefore I rest my case and leave it in the capable hands of a judge!

  • JJ - 2012-02-21 02:54

    Good mornng folks. I have followed this story since day one. 1st point. The visuals from yesterday (Monday) are after weeks and weeks of Humphries having dealt with or at least recognised(internally) what he did. The folded arms are of a man whose fate is unknown to him, almost defeated. Althoug he did not plead guilty of 'MURDER' he has always maintained that he is sorry. Always. Let us not let the 2.3 seconds clip we see on the news mislead our perception. 2nd point. Many, in fact, thousands of people all over the world receive bail and or suspended sentences in cases similar to this, REMEMBER the BEES ROUX case. However, it is alway the poorest criminals who pay, the rich guys can afford to 'make the documents get lost' or some other creative way of undermining justice. I am not saying Humphries should not be punished, not even close to that, what I am saying is that let us not be selective about how justice is implemented. If Humphries' money is not good enough than the monies of politicians and captians of industry should not be good enough either. Let us remember we have a president who has previously been accused of rape and corruption. Do you think he would have gotten out of all that trouble if he were poor?

  • Michael - 2012-02-21 09:16

    If the world had been fair, he would have been among the deceased. When he committed the act of driving into the level crossing he was placing himself at the same risk as those poor children. In my view he has had his share of luck, don't reward him with some more!

  • Nandi - 2012-02-21 14:39

    He must be punished like any other people who commit crime.This must be a lesson to all the rackless drivers.

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