They were like my own children: Taxi driver

2011-11-16 14:01

Cape Town - Judgment in the trial of a minibus taxi driver accused of killing 10 children after he jumped a level crossing and was hit by a train will be delivered on December 12.

Western Cape High Court Judge Robert Henney told the court on Wednesday that closing arguments in the trial of Jacob Humphreys, 55, would be heard on December 9.

He was expected to hand down his verdict three days later on December 12.

Relatives of the 10 victims, who wore T-shirts bearing images of the faces of the children, said they were relieved the case was finally over and they hoped for justice.

Humphreys has pleaded not guilty to the murders. He exercised his right to remain silent. He is out on R20 000 bail.

The crash on August 25 last year killed Liesl August, 11; Cody Erasmus, 15; Jody Phillips, 13; Reece Smith, 7; Nolan February, 13; Michaelin de Koker, 11; Jason Pedro, 14; Nadine Marthinissen, 16; Jeane-Pierre Willeman, 13; and Jade Adams, 10.

Post mortem reports showed that the children died of multiple injuries or head injuries suffered in the crash.

‘They were like my own children’

Humphreys testified this week that he had no recollection of the accident, at the Buttskop level crossing, which happened before dawn on August 25 last year.

"They were like my own children," he said.

"I knew some for more than three years and some for less.

Humphreys said that he had left home a few minutes later than usual that day.

"I didn't take my usual route because one of the children had a death in their family so the girl I usually picked up second, I went to fetch first then went on as usual.

"I got to Frederick Road, which is parallel to the railway. I stopped at the stop street then turned left into Buttskop Road."

During an in loco inspection, it was determined that Humphreys drove 30m on to Buttskop Road before making a U-turn towards the crossing.

"At the stop street, I saw the red lights flashing on the Buttskop side and that the booms were down," he said in testimony quoted by the Cape Times newspaper.

"I stopped after a small white car that slipped in front of me."

Humphreys told the court he had no recollection of what had happened to him or the vehicle after this point.

"The next thing I knew was when I woke up and heard someone screaming for me. I was on the ground in front of the [minibus] and then I was taken to Kuils River Netcare for head injuries.

"Two of my ribs were broken, my left arm and both legs and the right foot was swollen.

"From where I was standing behind the white car, I could've sped up to 30km/h."

Humphreys said he had the documentation he needed to transport children to and from school.

Sighs of relief

"The [minibus] was last checked about two or three months before the accident and nothing was wrong with it."

Humphreys did not dispute that he had previously slipped through the boom. He also said that he had been involved in two previous accidents in the vehicle.

"The first accident was when I stood at the stop street from Kleinvlei. A bus came from Forest Drive and when I went over, it hit the back of the [taxi]," he said.

"The second time was during the World Cup when the roads were busy. It was difficult to see."

He had children in his vehicle on both of these occasions.

During the trial, Henney told defence lawyer Johann Engelbrecht it was common sense for a driver to wait in line behind other vehicles at a red light.

"There's no need for you see the lights," he said.

"You are in a long queue of cars in front of you, then you accept, you wait your turn. It's common sense."

Sighs of relief were heard throughout the court as Henney postponed the trial and adjourned the court.

  • Shaun - 2011-11-16 14:13

    "They were like my own children," he said So you endanger your own children?

      Tanzanite - 2011-11-16 14:20

      He's just desperately trying to get his sentence reduced

      Mattewis - 2011-11-16 14:59

      Let's see if the sentence sends out the correct message! Most organisms care so much for the life of their young, that they willingly sacrifice their own lives to protect them. With babies found on rubbish dumps, I don't think this is really universally valid for human beings. In Europe they are so indifferent and selfish, they don't have babies. In Africa they have them, but just don't care for them. I agree with Tanzanite. This guy is just trying to keep out of prison by pushing the remorse button in court.

      Hendrik_Verwoerd - 2011-11-16 15:05

      This is tragic news.

      Steenbra - 2011-11-16 15:19

      Should report him to childline for abuse

  • Dorothea - 2011-11-16 14:19

    based on years of having to share the roads with these abolsute dregs of humanity, i will NEVER give these guys the benefit of the doubt. they are scumbags...... he killed these kids and that's that. he must pay the full price.

      Gareth - 2011-11-16 14:39

      I cannot begin to even imagine how I would feel if it were my children. As sorry as he may be, he wilfully neglected the dire consequences of his actions and as a result killed 10 children. For that alone he must face his punishment and hopefully, maybe, one, even just one other taxi driver might actually take notice.

  • Reggie - 2011-11-16 14:32

    How can put their lives in danger, if they were like your children?

  • Warwick - 2011-11-16 14:33

    If this is the diregard he showed towards his "own" children I would hate to see how he would have treated kids if they were not his "own'. This ahole was an serious accident waitng to happen, and it did.

  • Michelle - 2011-11-16 15:17

    Weird how these murderers get amnesia!! They couldn't have been like his own children, unless you hated their guts and couldn't wait to get rid of them!!!!

  • maxine.lenders - 2011-11-16 15:24

    according to him, he was standin behind a white car...thats all he remembers (blackout?)if so how did he get hit buy an on coming train & not that vehicle he claims was in front of him.

      maxine.lenders - 2011-11-16 15:30

      two previous incidents where he was also involved in an accident with kids whether...wreckless driving on his part & not observing his surroundings while tranporting precious cargo(kids)is negliegent those times he was lucky, hopefully this time he would be punished for fatlity endagering the lives of those kids.

  • magdalene.gossman - 2011-11-16 15:32

    He puts up an act for mercy, PAPPA WAG VE JOU !!!!!!!!

  • Gail - 2011-11-16 15:50

    Nothing will bring back those precious children but I hope the sentence will include banning him from driving for life as well as a good long spell in jail where he can reflect on having killed 10 children by deliberately making the decision to cross a train line where the lights were red, booms down and other cars were waiting. The amnesia could be because he himself had head injuries but also because the mind blocks out that which it feels would be best left forgotten - like responsibility and guilt. SEND OUT A STRONG MESSAGE TO THESE HOOLIGANS THAT WE ARE TIRED OF THEIR ARROGANCE AND STUPIDITY.

  • Travis - 2011-11-16 16:05

    Harsher enforcement of road rules need to be put in place for public transport drivers due to the fact they hold others lives in their hands. I feel sorry for those who have to endure the hell rides at the hands of SA taxi drivers. SA Taxi drivers have to be up their with the worst drivers in the world.

  • marazor - 2011-11-16 16:08

    Well that's easy... charge him with filicide and throw away the keys

  • jerhone - 2011-11-16 16:20

    so he'll use his own children to play Russian roullete with a train, the dumbarse

  • Faith - 2011-11-16 17:01

    Mxm negligent drivers should be locked up even at the smallest offence...

      John - 2011-12-09 18:24

      Ish more taxi for you. You sound radicilous. Transport system must become effective in this country. Till then "kamikadzes" will be on the road all the time....Do you ever think how many people are transported per day in such short time by taxies? There is no way that you can do this obeying trafic signs and rules....Is that a "new topic"?...Transportation must be existent in the correct form and SUPERVISED !!!. All these "workarounds" are "acceptable". Human life means nothing and thats why 34 people will travel in a single taxi and others will feel from the "bakkie" on the highway.....We are all guilty allowing this to happen. Peace to your souls Liesl,Cody,Jody Reece,Nolan,Michaelin,Jason,Nadine,Jeane-Pierre and Jade

  • emile.eley - 2011-11-16 21:25

    I pity the fruit of your loins pal.

      John - 2011-12-09 18:27

      Can we have that phrase in English?

  • Don - 2011-11-18 14:47

    Is this guy getting tips from Julius? Taxi's drive like hell all over the Eerste River area. All 4-way stops are yield signs to them, or rather, just slow down a bit signs.

      John - 2011-12-09 18:37

      Don...they all have a "visions". Until we don't put tire, paraffine and light to Humphreys..we will have more innocent people die everyday. "There's no need for you see the lights"......I'll give you the light

  • Vlam - 2011-12-12 17:09

    Well with a comment that the children was like his own. WOW! Who needs enemies and i would run if i was one of his blood relatives. "father oh father". ps. you stepped on the gas, now you can step into prison. Sorry for the innocent kids and their grieving loved ones. Even though it wont bring their loving kids back the family's must sue these taxi driver's ,taxi owners and taxi organisations just to show their reckless actions will have consequences.

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