Durban driver who killed M4 cyclists released on bail
Durban motorist Omesh Ramnarain‚ who was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for crashing into and killing two cyclists - was freed from prison on Monday.
This after a judge ruled that the trial magistrate‚ who denied him bail pending appeal‚ had acted “emotionally” and contrary to law.
Ramnarain had to pay R30‚000 bail - and he has been ordered to hand in his drivers licence to the investigating officer.
He was convicted of two counts of culpable homicide relating to the deaths of cyclists Richard da Silva and Jarred Dwyer‚ on the M4 leading out of the city in February 2016.
The two were on an early morning ride and were at the back of a group of cyclists heading up the north coast.
Ramnarain had been at a club but said he had only drunk four beers. A test was taken outside of the legislated two-hour window period and was not admitted into evidence during his trial.
He pleaded not guilty‚ saying he had not seen the cyclists at all. There were suggestions during his trial that a rock might have been thrown at his windscreen just before he collided with them. This is a point he intends raising on appeal.
While the Durban regional court Magistrate Anand Maharaj gave him permission to appeal both conviction and sentence last month‚ he ordered that he go to jail immediately because it was an “exemplary sentence”.
Ramnarain appealed this and the matter was argued before Durban high court Judge Mokgere Masipa last week. She handed down her ruling‚ in his favour‚ today. She said that the very fact that leave to appeal had been granted meant that even the trial court believed it was highly probably that it would succeed.
“It was wrong for the court to completely disregard the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act‚ which prescribes the law to be applied when dealing with bail applications.
“Instead the court took an emotional response of refusing bail for the benefit of setting an example. The interests of justice calls for an unbiased decision maker… but the court focused on and sought to punish the appellant.
“I find that the decision of the trial court was wrong‚ was not based on substantial reasons‚ was capricious and ought to be set aside‚” Judge Masipa said.