Crash case stalled for probe

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jake wootton feb 21

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Jake Wootton

Cape Town - The Hermanus man allegedly responsible for the death of Milnerton High School’s head boy of last year, has made his first court appearance almost a year after the fatal crash.

Schalk Lubbe, 24, appeared in the Hermanus Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday in connection with the incident that killed 18-year-old Jake Wootton.

Wootton was knocked over when he and seven friends were walking along Dirkie Uys Street in Hermanus at around 11.40pm on April 4 last year.

Wootton suffered severe injuries and was declared dead three days later. He was kept on life support until the following day so his organs could be donated.

Prosecutor Harold Engelbrecht told the court on Wednesday that Lubbe had been charged with drunken driving and culpable homicide for driving negligently that night. Engelbrecht asked that the case be postponed for three months because the police’s investigation was still in progress.

Magistrate Preggy Govender asked why the State had decided to prosecute Lubbe - nearly a year after the crash - if it still needed time to investigate the matter.

Engelbrecht replied: “The State only received the docket on January 17 and needs time to complete its investigation. This matter received media attention and after consultation with (Wootton’s) parents, the docket was sent to the director of public prosecutions. There are still necessary investigations outstanding. I don’t want to divulge whether more charges will be added,” Engelbrecht said.

But Govender said the State’s decision to prosecute needed to be based on evidence.

“The issue of publicity, emotions or public outcry should not be the basis of prosecution. There needs to be prima facie evidence, which is based on facts,” Govender said.

Lubbe’s lawyer, Danie Stein, said Govender raised all his concerns and asked that the case be marked final for investigation if Govender decided to grant a postponement.

Govender said it was Lubbe’s first appearance and the State was entitled to the postponement. However, he wanted know what would take three months to obtain.

Engelbrecht said medical reports, witness statements and other statements about the chronology of events needed to be obtained.

He said the investigation would be completed by the next date. Govender warned Lubbe to return to court on May 22.

Wootton’s father, Stephen, said his family was struggling to cope with his son’s death.

jade.otto@inl.co.za

Cape Argus


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