Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Cape Town - More than four months after Milnerton High School headboy Jake Wootton, was mowed down by a car in Hermanus during the Easter weekend, his family are still waiting to hear whether anyone will be held accountable for his death.
“We’re very frustrated because the investigations seem to be going nowhere. The driver who killed my son is still walking free, and we have had no word about an investigation into the police’s response to the accident,” said Stephen Wootton.
He said that on the night of the accident he and his wife drove from Table View to Hermanus, and arrived at the hospital before the police did.
“For us as a family, our lives will never be the same. But we still want to have answers.”
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the investigation had been finalised.
“The case will be presented to the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for a decision.”
After Jake’s death, Hector Eliott, head of the province’s Department of Transport and Public Works, strongly condemned the police for what he deemed widespread shortcomings in their response to accidents.
“They don’t assist victims or survivors or establish incident control. They do not sanitise the scene or create witness contact lists. They fail to obtain blood samples and other evidence, and the follow-up investigation is often inadequate,” he said.
Deputy provincial commissioner Major-General Sharon Jephta denied Eliott’s accusations.
Speaking to the Cape Argus at Jake’s funeral in April, his friends, who were witnesses to the accident, say police declined to test the breath of the driver who hit the schoolboy. Officers apparently told them that things were done “differently” in Hermanus.
At the time Eliott threatened that research, backed by his department and the Department of Community safety, would be carried out into the police response to traffic accidents. This has not yet been done.
“We have got as far as defining the specifications for a tender, so that the investigation can be outsourced and externally done. But I don’t expect to see it happening soon,” he said, citing quibbles between the provincial government and police as hurdles.
Eliott said, however, that provincial police commissioner General Arno Lamoer had given an assurance that police officers who responded to traffic accidents would undergo better training.
Questions put to the police regarding Lamoer’s apparent assurance were answered by Van Wyk, who said: “The basic training of police officers includes standing operational procedures at crime scenes. Attending to accident crime scenes is included.”
Van Wyk said the Western Cape had provided top-up training in addition to basic training to operational members who were first responders to crime scenes. “This training includes members on shifts from all 149 stations within the province.”
Meanwhile, as Jake’s classmates prepare for their matric exams,
Milnerton High School principal, Paul Besener, says Jake is missed.
“Everywhere you look you are reminded of Jake, by the fact of his absence. There is an empty seat at every assembly. The matric dance and the valedictory are coming up, he was suppose to speak at both.
“His friends and schoolmates have found it very difficult, to the extent where we have seen strain on the academic performance of a number of pupils.”