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Fri Apr 29 01:51:44 SAST 2016

Sentencing of drivers must be consistent: iLive

Terence Grant, Cape Town | 11 December, 2012 00:01
Minibus taxis offload passengers at an intersection in Cape Town August 15, 2007. Armed with pistols and fiery tempers, South Africa's minibus taxi drivers are the undisputed kings of road rage, cutting people off and flying through redlights as nervous motorists clear the way.
Image by: Mike Hutchings

OUR courts recently convicted a reckless taxi driver of murder, arguing that Jacob Humphreys should have known that he, when jumping a level crossing, was placing the lives of his passengers at risk.

Consequently, I was shocked to hear that authorities are thinking of charging a 21-year-old driver with culpable homicide for the death of a 19-year-old passenger. Shocked because this 21-year-old male driver hit a tree in a 60km/h zone at 2.45am - apparently after a night out at the Waterfront in Cape Town - and did the sort of damage to his vehicle usually done at a much higher speed, giving rise to the argument that he should have known he was placing the lives of his passengers at risk and therefore is - according to precedents - a murderer.

We can't afford to arm the likes of Humphreys and "Jub Jub"Maarohanye with the argument that the law is being unfairly applied (that whether one is charged with murder or culpable homicide hinges on what the prosecutor feels like doing; that there seems to be one rule for the rich and another for the poor; one set of rules for whites and another for blacks and coloureds) and therefore should fast-track the appeals of Humphreys and Jub Jub. Our courts need clarity. Failure to provide it, and timeously, makes a mockery of our legal system.


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