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Drunk driver gets 8 year jail sentence

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Durban - In a strong warning to motorists to behave responsibly on the roads, a South Coast magistrate has handed down an eight-year jail term to a drunk driver who caused a crash in which two people were killed.

In a recent judgment, Sifiso Mbutho, 32, was convicted in the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court on two counts of culpable homicide and driving under the influence by Magistrate Garth Davis.

The charges were in connection with a crash, which occurred in July 2014, that led to the deaths of Sibusiso Cele and Bhekumuzi Mtolo.

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According to the judgment, Mbutho, who had been driving an Audi A3, crashed head-on into a taxi when he tried to overtake a truck on the R612, which is the main road linking Park Rynie to Ixopo.

A Golf driving behind the taxi crashed into the back of the taxi.

Cele, who had been a passenger in Mbutho’s Audi, died at the scene while Mtolo died in hospital.

Davis said evidence before the court was that Mbutho had been seen driving recklessly about an hour before the incident.

An off-duty police officer, Wiseman Phungulu, testified that he had seen Mbutho’s silver Audi come up behind him and attempt to overtake vehicles in heavy traffic.

Phungulu said he let Mbutho overtake him and then later he came upon the accident involving the Audi, the taxi and the Golf.

He said bottles of alcohol were found in the Audi.

A district surgeon testified that Mbutho had smelt of alcohol and his speech was slurred.

Excuses, but no remorse

Mbutho, who admitted to drinking alcohol earlier in the day, said he had swerved to avoid a log which had fallen from the truck.

This was rejected by the court.

He also denied that he had overtaken vehicles in the incident described by Phungulu.

Magistrate Davis said the overtaking manoeuvre that Mbutho had attempted had been described by the Supreme Court of Appeal as the most “inexcusably dangerous thing a road user can do”.

Davis said while Mbutho was a first offender, a father of two children and the sole breadwinner for his family, the interests of the public demanded that he be given a custodial sentence.

“The court is aware that two young children will be impacted by any sentence that the court imposes. Those factors personal to him must yield to the other purposes of punishment, namely deterrence and prevention,” the magistrate said.

He also said that Mbutho had shown no remorse.

“He may be emotionally distraught that his friend died, but there seems to be no regret in respect of the innocent victims who have been so badly affected.”

The Mercury

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