Biker's 190km/h speed fine thrown out

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Pietermaritzburg - A KwaZulu-Natal motorcyclist, found guilty of speeding on the N2 freeway at 190km/h last year, has won his appeal and had his conviction and sentence set aside.

Margate resident Dirk Putter, 36, was convicted of exceeding the speed limit by the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court in August 2013 and sentenced to a R12 000 fine or 12 months’ imprisonment.

However, the conviction was overturned on appeal by Pietermaritzburg High Court Judges Johan Ploos van Amstel and Philip Nkosi on Tuesday, on the grounds that Scottburgh magistrate CJ Schoeman had erred by not acquitting Putter at the close of the State’s case.

The State had failed to call an expert witness to prove whether the traffic officers had operated the speed-monitoring device correctly, or to prove whether the apparatus used to determine the speed was capable of measuring it accurately.

The testimony of the expert was vital to the State’s case.

Having failed to call an expert to testify, the judges found the State had not proved its case against Putter beyond reasonable doubt.

Putter’s defence advocate, Deon Schaup, argued that the State had also failed to prove that the officer who had operated the speed measuring device was properly qualified to do so.

Senior provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate inspector H Grotius was conducting speed timing exercises on the N2 northbound at Ifafa River Bridge on 24 February 2013.

Grotius aimed the device at the headlight of the motorcycle and it recorded a speed of 190km/h.

The officer testified at trial that for safety reasons, he did not wave down the motorcyclist, but asked his colleague further ahead on the freeway to stop him. When Grotius eventually approached Putter, Grotius was unable to explain how the speed measuring device worked.

He conceded during his testimony that he had no knowledge of how the device functioned and stated that an expert would be required to testify. No expert was ever called.

The Mercury

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