Reckless drivers 'can face murder charges'

2012-04-07 14:44

Johannesburg - People who are negligent and cause accidents that take lives should and can be charged with murder, the national department of transport said on Saturday.

"We just want to warn road drivers against speeding and drinking and driving... it's time to ensure that authorities adopt a zero tolerance approach," said spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso

"We do have [a] precedent that people can be charged and successfully convicted with murder if negligence can be proved," he said.

Cullinan crash

Rikhotso said five people were killed on the R153 in Cullinan, east of Pretoria, earlier in the day.

"One driver in that incident had been charged with drunken driving and culpable homicide."

The eThekweni municipality reported that between Thursday and Friday, their officials had arrested 142 drunken drivers in Durban, Rikhotso said.

Meanwhile, the provincial department of public safety said two pedestrians and a driver were killed in the North West since the beginning of the weekend.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation reported that all the major arterial routes in the country had experienced peak traffic volumes which slowed into Saturday.


Spokesperson Ashref Ismail said their biggest worry now was speeding motorists.

"The N1 direction north to Polokwane and the N4 direction east from Pretoria to Nelspruit and the N3 direction south to Durban are all recording lower traffic volumes," said Ismail.

"At this point the biggest concern is people speeding because the traffic volumes are lower and they trying to exploit the situation," he said.

The biggest concern in metropolitan areas was drinking and driving.

"So we will be focusing on that for the next 48 hours."

Ismail said traffic officials in Gauteng had impounded 410 vehicles and arrested 30 people for excessive speeding - the highest being 245km/hour in a 120km/hour zone.

In the Free State 120 vehicles were impounded.

  • Shirley - 2012-04-07 15:00

    Oh dear! Do they only realise this now??? Use Mothate as the poster boy for this advert!

  • Buti - 2012-04-07 15:06

    What about Jubjub's case?

      Warren - 2012-04-07 22:44

      Good point. Jub Jub should have been charged with manslaughter. Murder is a deliberate intention to kill...I think Jub Jub is as much of a tosser as anyone but even I admit he didn't intend to kill. Just hope his being charged with murder doesn't allow him to wriggle out of justice altogether...not that we're seeing any justice at all in his case.

  • IAnon - 2012-04-07 15:37

    How many more times are you going to warn before you start doing - Offenders will spend the weekend in Jail it said - what happens? Lawyer gets caught doing 201 and hours later is back behind the wheel - how can anyone believe you?

  • Bob - 2012-04-07 15:51

    Does anyone know any other country that charges motorists with murder???

      Mike - 2012-04-07 16:18

      Legally illiterate comment by the department, negligence does not include intention and the law is over 2000 years old. You can still receive a heavy sentence for culpable homicide.

      Lacrimose - 2012-04-07 16:22

      Do you know of any other country that has so many reckless motorists?

      Lacrimose - 2012-04-07 16:29

      @Daniel - if I understand correctly, then the driver who is supposed to be in control of the vehicle, didn't intend to exceed the speed limit - the car did it? Also, they did not intend to drive drunk, the alcohol magically appeared in their bodies? If you're a licensed driver then you know the rules about speed limits and drunk driving. To do exceed the limit and drive drink in itself must signify intent to break the law. Or are you saying that deaths and maiming as a result of one's intent to break the law are "unforeseen consequences"?

      Grace - 2012-04-07 16:36

      The USA does... And so these negligent and drunk drivers SHOULD be charged if innocent people are harmed or killed. Driving a car carries responsibilities as does owning a firearm.

      Mike - 2012-04-07 17:26

      Grace who suggested they shouldn't be charged, and can you cite me case law in the US where they confuse intention with negligence?

      Mike - 2012-04-07 17:49

      Lacrimose, sorry but I don't understand what you are saying, sorry mate unless you study criminal law and wish to have a collegial discussion with me, any answer I proffer, you wont follow without the required knowledge. I don't tackle professional medical experts unless I understand their work and I often cross-examin them after reading copious medical material and I am assisted by my own medical expert otherwise I would come across as a buffoon. Sorry but you don't understand correctly.

      Robsschele - 2012-04-09 22:28

      @DanielDennett. That taxi driver in the cape. I think his name is Humphreys. Was he not found guilty of murder after getting the school children killed. Maybe he was the "precedent" that was mentioned. Did you read the following in the article: "We do have [a] precedent that people can be charged and successfully convicted with murder if negligence can be proved," he said.

  • Deon - 2012-04-07 16:16

    So I assume this only apply to the public sector. All the moorons in parliament is exempted from this.

      Grace - 2012-04-07 16:42

      Hmmmm... Like our 'blue light brigade'. Its ludicrous!!

  • Jonathan - 2012-04-07 16:34

    How embarrassing. The department of transport is merely advertising their sheer ignorance of the law. Negligence doesn't mean murder only culpable homicide as no intention exists to murder. Why don't they just throw in charges of rape, theft, grand theft auto, racketeering, corruption, illegal parking and even witchcraft. In fact let's just do away completely with the law of criminal negligence. I think the real biggest concern in this country is the incompetence of those working in government, clearly. What a joke for the rest of the world. I want to charge the department of transport for the attempted murder of strict legal principles... I'm a law student, maybe this is a sign to give up

      Mike - 2012-04-07 17:13

      Jonathan I really do feel your anguish but don't worry just stick to the principles as you understand them, I also regret the fact that Latin and roman law have been dropped from the law curriculum. When I studied law in the late 70's and early 80's , we started with 400 hopefulls and only 90 of us made it to final year. Lay people have incredibly strong views about what is as you understand a very complex areas of law and I am somewhat depressed at the quality of legal graduates who are cheated out of having a proper legal education. I studied a BA LLB and then did my LLM abroad and the standards were high, now we are losing our legal luminaries an replacing them with absolute mediocrity. As you know the law is not based on simple principles which any lay person can understand, hence some of the ridiculous comments you will read, good luck with your studies you sound bright and understand the issues.

      Marion - 2012-04-10 11:25

      @Jonathan - I think they are basing their decision on the fact that if you are using a potentially lethal weapon (a motor vehicle) and you do not obey the rules of the road e.g. you are dicing, you are drunk, you are drugged up, you overtake on a solid white line you know that your actions can result in someone's death and therefore you should be charged with murder. Personally I like the concept as I have seen fall-down drunks getting behind the wheel of their motor vehicles. Yet they were stone cold sober before they started imbibing so knew while they were sober what the consequences of over-indulging then driving could result in.

  • Bob - 2012-04-07 16:56

    Okay, so I hit a pothole and end up crashing into another car as a result. In the ensuing accident someone gets killed. Surely then the Government is liable for the cause of the accident as they voluntarily did not maintain the road, knowing fully that a pothole is a potentially dangerous road hazard that can cause a vehicle to loose control. Technically they caused the accident and should be charged with murder, because they were fully aware that this was a potential hazard that can cause an accident which can lead to death!

      Mike - 2012-04-07 17:33

      Bob your example falls into the law of delict and not criminal law!

      Crracker - 2012-04-07 17:47

      It is reasonably foreseeable that failure to properly maintain roads and road safety measures can lead to deaths. Just like neglecting to properly apply common sense safety measures in for example a factory with clear risks for the workers. At least culpable homicide. If they are to charge negligent drivers for murder there should be no reason why the same should not be applied to the mayor and chief of the metro police right down to the managers and then upwards again to even the councilors. Let's make a proper job of it. And let the same vigilance and concern be applied to dishonest politicians.

  • smiso.gumede - 2012-04-07 17:05

    we got kids everyday on roads nd i hv 2 wory if my boys are gona make back with all da tipsy, drunk, unlicenced drivers on da road... hell no a serious punishment must be implimanted here RSA. now with dat awareness a decrease of preventable accidents on our roads will be accomplished.

  • Dennis - 2012-04-07 19:52

    And so we still spend our time pulling high speed vehicles of the raod when the accidents are being caused by drunken drivers. Surely we should be putting more effort in monitoring vehicles swerving in an out of lanes because they cant control their cars because they are drunk than grabbing speedsters that are probably driving sophisticated cars that can handle the speed. Or don't the officials know the difference or are they drunk with power now.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-04-08 13:15

      How well do these sophisticated cars deal with high impact collisions? I think the oke driving the cheap unsophisticated car will come off second best. I don't think those who can afford fancy cars deserve any different treatment - though it would suit our elitist politicians.

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2012-04-07 23:11

    "People who are negligent and cause accidents that take lives should and can be charged with murder" Accident : Unplanned, uncontrolled event caused by unsafe actions or conditions. Murder : Intentional, planned homicide, motivated by personal attitude towards victim. Have fun getting these two together.

      wesleywt - 2012-04-08 07:22

      So if you overtake several cars waiting at a red light. Then manoeuvre through a down boom gate to beat a train. Resulting in the death of ten children. Is unplanned an unplanned accident? Hmmm then if you want to kill you wife for insurance money you should do the same.

      maseratifittipaldi - 2012-04-08 10:52

      If it was planned, it cannot be an accident.

  • Dan - 2012-04-09 09:55

    We will take these comments seriously when we see the well-connected like Sifiso Zulu in jail! The law must apply equally to all.

  • gideon.rossouw - 2012-04-09 15:16

    Only where the element of fault is dolus eventualis, which means that the perpetrator foresees the possibility of death or serious injury and reconciles himself to that, can there be murder conviction. This form of intention may seem like negligence to lay people but it is not culpa but dolus. To talk of negligent murder is just plain silly. It is probably better to create a statutory crime like the English 'Death by Dangerous Driving'. Legal principles should not be abused to achieve policy outcomes.

  • flysouth - 2012-04-10 11:11

    This statement is rubbish, just like the people who made it! There can be no claim of 'murder' in any car accident - murder requires a prior intent to kill and that would have to be proven in court - and such prior intent cannot be shown in an accident! We really need people in all levels of government with much better understanding of their role and of the law - it is ludicrous to make such statements. But then 'ludicrous' is the ANC's middle name. Even 'dolus eventualis' would be very, very difficult to show in court.

  • Bless Boswell - 2012-04-11 08:43

    Does this apply to blue light hooligans as well? Or are they pardoned by the president?

  • Bless Boswell - 2012-04-11 08:47

    Does this apply to the blue light hooligans too? Or are they pardoned by the president?

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