Road rage accused 'very nice'

2003-07-11 20:08

Cape Town - A mother who spent a pleasant evening at a nightspot with her two daughters and the fiancee of one of her daughters, battled tears in the Cape Town Regional Court on Friday as she recalled a road-rage incident afterwards in which the fiancee - whom she described as "a very nice person" - allegedly beat up two men.

Michelle Whittal was questioned by prosecutor Megan Blows, who demanded from her details that she could not remember about the incident.

On trial is Alberto Saunders, 22, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder relating to severe injuries suffered by close friends Mark Combrink and Marc Walden.

The incident happened in Table View in the early hours of February 2 last year when Saunders, apparently enraged because the car behind had flashed its bright lights at him, allegedly attacked Combrink and Walden with a baseball bat.

Whittal recalled that Saunders had been "in a state" after a radio news report on the Monday morning about the injuries suffered by the two men.

In earlier testimony neurosurgeon Gerrit Coetzee had testified how Walden and Combrink were likely to suffer permanent personality changes following the attack.

Whittal denied that her version of the alleged road-rage incident was merely a summary of what she had thought had happened and what Saunders had told her.

The prosecutor said it was strange that Whittal could only recall important aspects of the incident that were in Saunders' favour.

Whittal replied: "It's more than a year ago that it happened. I'm very nervous and there are many things I cannot remember.

"I'm not trying to justify what he did, it was an ugly incident but it definitely was not attempted murder."

She said her daughters and Saunders had been severely provoked on the road, but that Saunders had not set off that night with a malicious intent to look for trouble.

She told the court: "Alberto is happy-go-lucky, very popular among his peers and very well liked by all - he is a very nice person."

The trial was postponed to September 8.