Drunk driving should have minimum sentence - magistrate while sentencing driver to jail

2018-06-25 14:25
Magistrate's Court (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Magistrate's Court (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The legislature should start thinking about applying minimum sentences for drunk driving cases – as it does with murder and other serious crimes, a Durban magistrate said on Monday, in ordering that a drunk driver must go to jail.

Magistrate Phumlani Bhengu sentenced Hillcrest personal trainer Stephan Bothma to three years imprisonment in terms of legislation which specifies that he must serve one-sixth – six months – behind bars, and the balance under house arrest.

He was also fined R10 000 or 10 months, half of which was suspended.

Earlier this year, Bothma pleaded guilty to drunk driving and failing to perform the duties of a driver by fleeing the scene, after he crashed at high speed into the back of a car.

He said he had been drinking shooters and beers at the rugby and, although he did not intend to drive, his phone battery had gone flat and he could not call for a lift.

He was arrested 30km away from the accident scene in Hillcrest when his car apparently broke down.

'Left crippled'

Two sisters, who were in the backseat of the car he crashed into, were seriously injured.

Varsha Maharaj, a candidate attorney, suffered brain injuries and newlywed Taariqa Archary, an electronic engineer, was left quadriplegic.

It was because of these injuries, the magistrate said, that he had deviated from the non-custodial sentence "norm" for a first offender on a drunk driving charge.

Bothma's legal team fought to keep him out of jail, pointing to case law in which offenders had either been given fines and suspended sentences or, as was suggested in this case, a sentence of correctional supervision under which he would be subjected to house arrest and undergo rehabilitation programmes.

The magistrate said Bothma had driven that night even though he knew he was drunk. He had not explained why he could not borrow a phone to make that call.

He said Bothma's claim that he was completely unaware of the accident was "unbelievable", considering that it was so serious that the car had to be cut open to free those who were trapped inside.

"Two educated members of society were left 'crippled'.

"What has happened to them cannot be reversed," he said.

'Drunk driving not taken seriously'

Statistics showed that South Africa had one of the highest drunk driving incident rates in the world.

"Our roads are the most dangerous in the world," he said, pointing out that the Road Accident Fund had paid out R28bn in claims in 2015 and that in the matter before him, the claims would run into many millions of rands.

"This is all because one person who drank decided to drive, even though he was not fit to do so.

"It is my view that drunk driving cases are not being taken seriously."

Bothma applied for and was granted leave to appeal against the prison sentence. His bail was extended.

Taariqa Archary and her husband Hamresin said they were "okay" with the sentence.

"I think the magistrate is sending a strong message that you will go to jail, even if no one died in the accident. I think we have made a difference," Hamresin said.

Caro Smith of South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD) said she believed the sentence was not harsh enough.

"The victims have no rights. He can appeal, they can't," she said.

Read more on:    durban  |  courts  |  crime

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

How your dog can tell what you’re feeling

Researchers have found a specific area in a dog’s brain that recognises human faces – a finding that may help to explain why dogs are so sensitive to human social cues.

 

Paws

Share your 67 minutes with animals in need this Mandela Day
Kevin Anderson’s dog is winning at Instagram!
Kim Kardashian-West buys fake testicles to boost her dog’s self-esteem
10 tips on exercising your dog
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.