Motorist in court for Durban cyclists' death gives his version to court

2018-04-04 18:22
Bicycle lanes are reserved for cyclists. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Bicycle lanes are reserved for cyclists. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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Omesh Ramnarain, the motorist charged in connection with the death of two cyclists on the M4 leading out of Durban two years ago, testified on Wednesday that he had not seen any cyclists at all.

Richard Da Silva and Jarred Dwyer died after being hit - allegedly at high speed - by Ramnarain at about 05:00 on February 7, 2016.

They were at the back of a group of cyclists, who were out for an early-morning recreational ride.

Their bodies were flung several metres up the road.

Ramnarain, who was travelling with a friend, had left a nightclub and was on his way home. His friend has not been called by either the State or the defence.

Belated blood sample

While the State alleges he was drunk, a blood sample was only taken from him after the legal two-hour window period.

However, several witnesses at the trial, before the Durban Regional Court, including the doctor who took the belated blood sample, have testified that they smelled alcohol on his breath.

At the start of the trial, Ramnarain put in a written, detailed version of his account of events on that early morning.

On Wednesday, he gave evidence in person.

He claimed he had had four Hunter's Gold drinks that evening and was not under the influence of alcohol.

He also claimed that he had been travelling behind another vehicle at about 100km/h when, at the Durban North turnoff, that car suddenly swerved on to the off-ramp.

He then heard a thud, his windscreen smashed, and another thud.

"I didn't see any cyclists at all," he claimed.

Under cross-examination, prosecutor Herman Mouton said the visibility was good and many of the cyclists had flashing red warning lights.

"How could you not see them? It seems highly unlikely."

'You had too much to drink'

He also suggested that, even if Ramnarain had only had four drinks, he would have still been over the legal limit.

He also pointed to the fact that one witness had testified that his car had "flown past him".

Regarding a rock found in Ramnarain's car and suggestions that it might have been thrown from the overhead bridge, causing the windscreen to shatter, Mouton said the bridge was at least 170m from the point of impact "and it was physically impossible to throw a rock from that distance".

"You didn't see them because you had too much to drink, you were driving at excessive speed, you were not in control and you were not keeping a proper look-out," Mouton said.

Magistrate Anand Maharaj said Ramnarain had to give a proper explanation why he had not seen the cyclists otherwise he could be convicted on his own version.

Ramnarain said it was because the other car had blocked his vision and then his windscreen had smashed.

"You are playing games… you say the car swerved on to the off ramp. So that is out of the picture."

Ramnarain then said it was because his windscreen smashed.

The magistrate responded: "Two people died. We need to understand why and whether you are responsible for that… you want me to accept that you didn't see them at all?"

"Yes," Ramnarain replied.

Judgment is expected to be delivered on Friday.

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Read more on:    durban  |  judiciary  |  accidents

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