Pinetown crash: 'Charges will not stand'

2013-10-16 20:17
Aftermath of the Pinetown horror crash. (ER24)

Aftermath of the Pinetown horror crash. (ER24)

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Durban - Murder charges will not stand against the driver in a KwaZulu-Natal runaway truck accident that claimed 24 lives, the Pinetown Magistrate's Court heard on Wednesday.

"One only needs to look at the Humphreys matter to know that he will not be convicted of murder," Louis Barnard, for driver Sanele Goodness May, told the court.

May faces 24 murder charges after his truck ploughed into four minibus taxis and two cars at an intersection in Pinetown on 5 September.

That night, 22 people were killed. Two more died later.

Barnard was referring to the case of Western Cape taxi driver Jacob Humphreys.

He was charged with 10 counts of murder after jumping a queue of cars and trying to drive through a railway boom in August 2010. Ten children in his taxi died.

He was convicted of murder, but the Supreme Court of Appeal set aside the murder charges in March and replaced them with 10 counts of culpable homicide and cut his 20-year sentence to one of eight years.

Barnard said that, to find May guilty, the court would have to find he was suicidal on the night of the crash.

Arguing that May be granted bail, he told the court there was no evidence linking his client to murder.

Barnard questioned the logic of May wanting to be a fugitive for life.

He submitted that May was unlikely to get a more severe sentence than that imposed on Humphreys.

Barnard argued that May should also be allowed to return home to Swaziland.

The fact that there was an extradition treaty between the two countries and a written commitment from the Swaziland High Commission to ensure that May attended court should allay any fears of his being a flight risk.

Magistrate Wendolyn Robinson queried this assertion.

"You do know about the [Shrien] Dewani case? It could take years [to extradite May]," she said.

Fake driving permit

Earlier, the court heard that May had a fake public driving permit.

Detective Warrant Officer Sanjeev Singh said officials from Swaziland's transport department had confirmed that May's public driving permit, which allowed him to drive trucks and is recognised in South Africa, was a fake.

Singh said though May did have a valid Swazi driver's licence, he would have been legally allowed to apply for his Swazi public driving permit only in February next year.

"I have confirmed his public driving permit is false," he said.

Singh said May had a fake South African traffic register certificate, which he obtained on the basis of his fake Swazi public driving permit.

According to Singh, the certificate in May's possession and bearing his name belonged to another person - Nkosinathi Dladla.

"This means that this document has been falsified."

Singh was giving evidence at May's formal bail application. The State has opposed bail.

Barnard said May had no idea that his documents were fake because he had used an agent to obtain them.

May initially faced culpable homicide charges, but these were later changed to murder and a charge of reckless or negligent driving.

May's supporters packed the court on Wednesday.

He had a colourful, quilted blanket over his head when he entered the court. Scores of press photographers took pictures of him and filmed his entrance.

The court was also told that May was illegally in the country and did not have a work permit.

Robinson said she would hand down her decision on 22 October.

Read more on:    sanele goodness may  |  durban  |  pinetown crash  |  accidents

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