'Reckless' hummer driver jailed

2013-05-31 17:15
Indi Himalindi Chiyabu

Indi Himalindi Chiyabu

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Pretoria - The Hummer driver who crashed into motorcyclists in 2010, killing two and causing a third to lose a limb, was jailed for six years on Friday.

Pretoria North Regional Court Magistrate Ben van Schalkwyk sentenced Zambian national Indi Himalindi Chiyabu to two nine-year terms on two culpable homicide counts.

Three years of each sentence were suspended for five years, and the two sentences would be served concurrently.

Van Schalkwyk also sentenced Chiyabu to a further 18 months' imprisonment for contravening road traffic legislation.

Chiyabu fled the scene shortly after the accident and did not report it to police, in contravention of the law. He handed himself to the authorities five days later.

The 18-month prison term would also run concurrently with the initial two sentences.

The magistrate said he was convinced Chiyabu was a reckless driver and had caused the accident and the subsequent deaths of the motorcyclists.

Chiyabu was apparently driving in the wrong lane, facing oncoming traffic when the accident occurred.

"All over the country, people are dying on the roads because of people who drive without the necessary care.

The accused clearly did not keep a proper look-out," said Van Schalkwyk.

"According to photographs of the accident scene, visibility was good outside the car. The court is satisfied that the accused caused the death of the two deceased in a reckless manner."

Bail denied

In passing sentence, Van Schalkwyk said he had considered numerous factors, including the prevalence of culpable homicide in South Africa, Chiyabu’s personal circumstances, and the severity of the crime.

"With regards to culpable homicide, it is a prevalent crime in South Africa. A lot of accidents are being reported in the news media every week," he said.

Van Schalkwyk suspended Chiyabu’s Zambian-issued international driving licence from use in South Africa.

The accident occurred on Rachel de Beer Road, Pretoria, in October 2010.

The Hummer and two of the motorcycles caught fire.

Pieter Coetzee, 49, and JP Kruger, 32, died at the scene. Coetzee's son Pieter survived, but had to have a leg amputated.

The wheelchair-bound amputee was in court on Friday, accompanied by relatives.

Chiyabu was found guilty on the two counts of culpable homicide in February.

Shortly after the sentence on Friday, Chiyabu’s lawyer Makhi Nogaga brought an application for leave to appeal and for bail to be granted pending the appeal process.

"The trial became unfair to the accused. The constitutional issue in this case has to be tested at least by the High Court, and ultimately by the Constitutional Court," he said.

"Without seeming to disrespect the judgment, we are of the opinion that a different court may reach a different conclusion on this matter."

Van Schalkwyk granted leave to appeal, but declined the application for bail sought pending the appeal process.

He said even though Chiyabu’s travel documents were in police possession, it was possible that the man who hails from Lusaka would "disappear".

"The accused can return to Zambia where he has three kids. He can go somewhere in Polokwane, his mother has a farm there. It is easy, people disappear in South Africa," said Van Schalkwyk.

Read more on:    indi himalindi chiyabu  |  accidents

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