The affordable education loan option
Durban - Triple murder charges against bridge crash lawyer Koobashan Naicker, who is to stand trial next month, have been reduced to lesser counts of culpable homicide.
Naicker was initially charged with murder in connection with an accident on Durban’s Athlone Bridge in March 2011 in which Gillian Bell, her eight-year-old son, Connor, and dance teacher, Carmen Hunter, were killed and others were injured
He was also facing a string of other charges including drunk driving and reckless and negligent driving related to other incidents.
While the National Prosecuting Authority did not respond to questions sent last Friday, Naicker’s lawyer, Mervin Maistry, said the State had notified him that the murder charges had been changed to culpable homicide.
“It is the State’s prerogative to make these changes. As far as we understand the rest of the charge sheet remains as it is,” Maistry said.
It is understood that the decision to amend the charges was as a result of the Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgment in March in the case of Western Cape taxi driver, Jacob Humphreys.
The driver had been convicted of 10 counts of murder and jailed for 20 years in connection with a crash in which 10 children were killed when his taxi collided with a train.
On appeal, the murder counts were amended to culpable homicide and his sentence was reduced to eight years as the judges said intent had to be proven.
Widower Jason Bell said that while he understood the decision had been based on the Supreme Court of Appeal judgment, he was extremely disappointed.
“I was told by the prosecutor that, even if they continued with the murder charges, on appeal it would be reduced. Our hands are pretty much tied. This legal system does not provide justice for anybody.”
Bell said he was angry that the State had not told him about the developments.
“I was only told after I phoned the prosecutor to check on the trial. No one has kept us up to speed. It is just like when he was released on bail. It is ugly and disappointing.”
Naicker is out on bail of R8 000. He was granted bail and given permission to drive earlier this year, in a move that angered the Bell family because they had not been told about the bail application.
Naicker made a “new facts” bail application after he was jailed in November by magistrate Anita Govender.
She revoked Naicker’s bail after she found he had had “total disrespect and disregard” for his bail conditions by driving on several occasions.
Bell said his relatives and friends would be attending the trial.
They were hoping to hold a protest outside the court to “send a message to the courts”.
The trial is expected to start on October 21.