Crash bus driver seeks mitigation

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Independent Newspapers

Cape Town - Correctional supervision would be inappropriate for the driver in a Western Cape bus crash that claimed 23 lives, the Cape Town Regional Court heard on Wednesday.

Siza Nonama, 41, was driving a bus from Leeu-Gamka to Cape Town in May, 2010, when it crashed near De Doorns in the early hours of the morning.

He is to be sentenced on 23 counts of culpable homicide.

The proceedings before magistrate Bruce Langa resumed on Wednesday.

Legal Aid defence lawyer Wimpie Strauss handed in a correctional supervision report, concluding that a sentence of correctional supervision would be inappropriate for Nonama.

This involves a brief period of imprisonment, after which the offender is released into a period of house arrest, and has to perform community service.

A second option is house arrest and community service, without imprisonment.

Strauss said Nonama's failing health slowed him down physically, and left him severely out of breath, prevented him from performing community service.

As community service was an integral part of the sentence, correctional supervision was out of the question.

Nonama has a licence to drive light motor vehicles, but not buses.

In Wednesday's proceedings, Nonama admitted he had driven at a speed of 80kmh going down the Hex River Pass in wet conditions, when the speed limit for heavy vehicles was 60.

Asked how he felt about the tragedy, he said: “I am not happy about it. From the day that the accident happened, I have not felt good, and I keep thinking about it.”

He said it would have been better for him to have died in the smash as well, “rather than to suffer like this”.

He added: “I am very sorry for the families of those who died.”

Asked by prosecutor Willem Tarantal what he meant by “suffer like this”, he said: “I am sorry for what I did... sorry for killing so many people.”

Tarantal asked: “Are you not sorry for the position in which you have landed yourself Ä being an accused in court?”

Nonama replied: “You are correct, it was never my intention to be in this place.”

Tarantal: “On that particular morning, you were not allowed to drive a bus Ä you only had a licence for a light vehicle. Why were you driving the bus?”

Nonama said he was not aware, at the time of the incident, that he was not allowed to drive a bus.

It was only after the accident that he became aware that his licence did not include buses.

The case continues on March 26. - Sapa


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