Motorist who drove into Durban metro cop 'has never apologised' – victim's mother

2018-07-10 19:24
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A woman convicted of culpable homicide for crashing into an off-duty Durban metro police officer and then driving 1.5km with him on the roof of her car is "a selfish person" for having not apologised for what she did.

This was the view of Nonhlanhla Mbatha, the mother of 26-year-old Phumlani Mbatha who was found seriously injured in the middle of Silverton Road, near Musgrave Centre, on April 14, 2012. He died the next day in hospital.

Nolwazi Nzimande, 30, who is the youngest daughter of Professor Victor Nzimande – a prominent KwaZulu-Natal businessman and academic – faces a possible jail term.

READ: Culpable homicide for woman who ran over cop and drove off with him on the roof of her car

Earlier this year, Durban Regional Court Magistrate Stanley Hlophe convicted her of culpable homicide, rejecting her version that she had been a victim of an attempted hijacking that day and had nothing to do with Mbatha's death.

He also convicted her co-accused, US national John Solomon, on charges related to his attempt to obstruct the course of justice after hearing evidence that Nzimande had gone to Solomon's house after the incident and he had arranged for her car to be towed to a panel beater the next morning.

Mbatha was crossing Berea Road when he was struck by a blue Polo, bearing a learner driver sign. He then "disappeared" and his friends who were with him spent hours trying to find him, going to hospitals and police stations.

'She needs to be taught a lesson'

A witness in the trial, Jonathan Aschmann, said while driving that evening he noticed a blue Polo "with something on its roof". On closer inspection he saw a woman driving, speaking on her cellphone. The windscreen was caved in and there was a man on the roof, stuck in the windscreen.

During sentencing proceedings on Tuesday Hlophe heard evidence from probation officer Thembelihle Shange that Nzimande refused to take responsibility for what she had done. Shange had recommended in a report that Nzimande go to jail. 

"She insists that she has done nothing wrong… if she had expressed remorse my recommendation would have been different," she said on Tuesday.

"But she needs to be taught a lesson."

Shange said she had interviewed Mbatha's mother, who felt similarly.

"Nzimande failed to assist her son during the accident and instead left him helpless on the road. She said there were occasions when she saw Nzimande laughing in court.

"Mrs Mbatha said Nzimande has pride since she never apologised or expressed remorse when she introduced herself… She says she is selfish and inconsiderate of others' feelings."

'Not one iota of remorse'

Nzimande's attorney, Menzisi Ngxongo, argued that his client was 24 at the time of the incident and was a relatively inexperienced driver.

She had a bachelor's degree in social science and was employed.

"This may have been an error of judgment...direct imprisonment will do her more harm than to rehabilitate her."

But prosecutor Krishan Shah said Nzimande deserved to be punished because "she has not shown one iota of remorse".

Solomon, who represented himself, said he had been living in South Africa since 2007, working as an insurance and investment agent.

"I was not present when the accident took place. Perhaps my judgement was not as sound as it should have been on that night. 

"I am now friends with Mrs Mbatha and I made clear my role in the situation… I hate it that we became friends the way we did, but she will always be my friend," he said.

He said whatever sentence he received, he would not take the matter on appeal.

They will be sentenced next month.

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