Taxi driver intentionally hurt me - victim

2015-04-10 20:57

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Johannesburg - The woman who was knocked down and dragged beneath a taxi for almost a kilometre in Lonehill, Johannesburg on Friday said she believed the taxi driver intentionally hurt her.

"I know he did what he did on purpose and I think he should be punished for it," Kim McCusker told News24.

She was speaking outside the Randburg Magistrate's Court where taxi driver Matome Thamage had just testified on what happened on the day of the incident in September 2011. 

Asked what she thought would be a reasonable punishment for Thamage if he were to be found guilty, McCusker said:  "I don't know in terms of sentencing, [but] he should get to spend some time in jail and not just get a suspended sentence."

The case against Thamage had dragged on for over three years and McCusker said she wished it could have been over by now.

She said there had been several reasons for the delays. 

"I can't remember all the reasons but it was stuff like; they didn't have the docket, then the magistrate that started hearing the matter retired, then the one day there was no stenographer here and it just kept getting postponed and postponed and postponed," she said. 

Thamage had also since changed lawyers since the proceedings began. Representing him in court on Friday was Lulama Mqongosi. 

McCusker said was, however, happy that the matter was to be drawing to an end. 

The defence was expected to call one more witness to the stand once the State completed its cross-examination of Thamage.

Thamage spent most of the day in the dock where he testified in Sepedi. 

Reckless and negligent

Through an interpreter, he told the court that he had been reckless and negligent as he drove that day but he did not see McCusker under his car. 

"I drove negligently as I approached a stop sign," Thamaga said through an interpreter.

He explained that he had been in a right turn lane only when he suddenly decided to change lanes and move to the left lane which only permitted vehicles to continue straight.

"The white man put on his brakes. I had no way of avoiding him. I scratched his vehicle slightly," said Thamage.

"I put on my brakes and he got out of his car and approached me. I thought he was coming to talk to me so I opened my window slightly.

"He punched the window and broke it. He then throttled me," said Thamage.

"There was no conversation between us. He grabbed my neck for a long time to the extent that the vehicle descended down the road and ended on a pavement. The engine of my car had still been running."

Thamage said when the man, who was at the time McCusker's fiancé, Lourens Grobler, let go of his throat, he reversed his car and then drove off with McCusker stuck underneath his vehicle.  

Thamage was on trial for seven charges. These included attempted murder, reckless and negligent driving, driving without a licence, driving a taxi without a permit, failing to stop to ascertain the damage caused during an accident, another for failing to ascertain the injuries sustained by an accident victim and failure to stop immediately at an accident scene.

He has agreed he was reckless and negligent behind the wheel and also admitted to driving without a permit. 

He has however, pleaded not guilty to the other charges. 

Passengers on-board

He told the court that as he drove off with McCusker under his taxi, he saw other cars hooting and flashing behind him. 

"I thought these people were hooting because they were perhaps friends with the white man who had strangled me," Thamage said.

He eventually stopped after being flagged down by some security guards. The single remaining passenger had also wanted to get off.

"After stopping the car at the bus stop, the security guards came to me and told me there was someone beneath my car.

"I got out of the taxi and we looked at the woman. Together with them, we picked up the vehicle and took her out."

Prosecutor Sam Manning on Friday said Thamage's version of events were improbable.

"Since Mr Grobler had let go off you and was walking away, there was no imminent danger. There was no reason for you to reverse and speed off from the scene," Manning said. 

She criticised Thamage for having had driven his taxi for three years without a permit. 

"It was a mistake," Thamage responded.

"A mistake that you made every day for 365 days for three years?" Manning questioned.

"I could not afford a permit," Thamage replied. 

His case was postponed to May 19. He was still out on bail.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime
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