New trial pain for husband

2016-07-08 13:49
Lynette and Grant du Bois

Lynette and Grant du Bois

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Pietermaritzburg - Nine years after Pietermaritzburg wife and mother Lynette du Bois died in a collision with a minibus taxi, her husband faces the prospect that he might never get justice for her.

Grant du Bois (now living in Durban) said he was “speechless” yesterday over news that the case against the taxi driver who was charged over his wife’s death has been halted for the second time and a whole new trial has been ordered.

This is the culmination of several years of a “stop/start” prosecution against Sibongiseni Khuzwayo, who pleaded not guilty to culpable homicide for allegedly jumping a red robot and negligently killing Lynette du Bois on March 16, 2007.

The case has throughout been dogged by both misfortune — when one of the defence lawyer’s representing Khuzwayo died halfway through the case — and controversy due to portions of the records of evidence going missing.

Magistrate Helgaard Fobian previously recused himself at the eleventh hour when judgment was almost due after the defence accused him of “perceived bias”.

However, Fobian had a change of heart and thereafter got the go-ahead from high court judges to continue with the trial, only to encounter difficulties with a poor recording of court proceedings and unclear transcripts of the evidence.

Parts of the record subsequently again also went missing and attempts had to be made to reconstruct the record of proceedings.

Defence attorney Val Marion, who was recently appointed by Judicare SA (Legal Aid) to take over the matter, confirmed that the transcripts of the evidence he obtained were so poor that the evidence was indecipherable in parts due to poor recording.

In addition, some witness statements are reportedly missing from the original docket.

It is believed that this will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the prosecution to be relaunched.

“I refuse to let this eat away at my soul. I will get on with my life,” Du Bois declared yesterday.

He, however, takes a very dim view of the justice system in SA.

Du Bois said whenever he watches television it makes him wonder “what difference there is between my wife and some celebrity”, referring to the trial of Oscar Pistorius for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

Du Bois said he does not attach blame for the botched prosecution on the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Brett Rasmussen.

“He is as frustrated as I am,” he said.

He said Rasmussen has assured him he will do his best to locate all the witnesses and get the case back on the court roll, but Du Bois is not optimistic.

The Witness was told that police witnesses who attended the scene of the accident are no longer with the SAPS and it would be difficult to trace them.

In addition to that it is always a problem for witnesses to remember and testify about events long after an incident has happened.

Du Bois previously expressed the agony he feels about his wife’s death and the fact that he cannot get closure while the outcome of the case is still hanging in the balance.

In 2013 he suffered another tragedy when his son, Brett — one of twins — was killed in an accident on the M4 near Blue Lagoon in unknown circumstances.

Describing the collision that killed his wife in 2007 in an earlier interview, Du Bois said they were en route to fetch their son from a friend’s house and take him to their home in Bisley.

On the corner of West and Langalibalele streets, a minibus allegedly sped through a red robot, hitting into their car on the left hand side where Lynette was sitting.

“We were taken right across the road to the next robot pole and smashed up against the pole. It took the fire department around an hour to get us out,” he said.

Du Bois said while they lay helpless in the wreckage bystanders stole items from his wife’s handbag.

He said their car was “completely squashed” and his wife had suffered a broken neck, although he did not realise it at the time.

Howard Dembovsky of Justice Project SA said the events sounded like a “comedy of errors, with no laughs associated with it”.

“What has happened here, while uncommon, does happen from time to time … the magistrate has no choice but to recuse himself if the trial is going to start afresh,” said Dembovsky.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court  |  accident

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