Durban - Dogged police work led to the tracing of a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run and this week’s successful prosecution of the driver.
Sifiso Nkosi, 33, who had maintained his innocence, has been sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for culpable homicide.
The Glenwood resident said he thought he had knocked down an animal early on August 26, 2012, on the M4 freeway south-bound carriageway near Dr Solomon Mahlangu (Edwin Swales) Road.
He did not report the accident to the police, nor did he stop at the accident scene.
Nkosi had been driving his cousin’s Mendoza Brown VW Amarok at the time, which was later repaired by a “back door” panelbeater.
He had struck 27-year-old eMkhomazi (Umkomaas) resident, Craig Pickavance, who was walking along the yellow line of the freeway with his back to the traffic.
Pickavance’s vehicle had broken down a few metres away. A post-mortem report found Pickavance had died from multiple blunt trauma.
His skull was crushed. He also had cervical spine and rib fractures and experienced a “traumatic amputation of the right lower limb”.
A crash reconstruction investigation conducted by Warrant Officer Freddie Snodgrass, of the SAPS Durban Accident Combating Unit, found that the VW Amarok had been travelling at about 100km/h and had driven into the yellow lane, striking Pickavance.
Through investigating officer Warrant Officer Poobalan Ganas’s perseverance, he was able to trace the vehicle by getting a list of all the VW Amarok owners in the Durban area.
Nkosi had pleaded not guilty in April this year before Durban Regional Court magistrate, Fariedha Mohamed, to the charge of murder, alternatively culpable homicide.
He had denied intention or negligence on his part.
Mohamed found him guilty of culpable homicide in June, and pre-sentencing reports were requested from a Department of Social Development social worker and a Correctional Services officer.
According to social worker Makhosazana Mantana’s report, she had interviewed Pickavance’s father, James, who said the family were devastated by their son’s death, and that Pickavance’s mother, Susan, was suffering from cardiovascular disease because she could not cope with losing her son.
Pickavance sr had said he was disappointed that Nkosi was not convicted of murder.
The Department of Correctional Services report referred to Nkosi still maintaining his innocence and that he was not prepared to take responsibility even after the court findings.
The report did not make any recommendations about sentencing, leaving it in the court’s hands. State prosecutor Blackie Swart had argued for a lengthy prison sentence.
According to Snodgrass’s reconstruction report, Ganas had determined the type of vehicle involved from the parts left at the scene.
After a vehicle inspection, Ganas found imperfections and damage to the left front side of the vehicle, indicating it had been poorly repaired.
The owner of the Amarok said the vehicle was registered to the family business and acknowledged it was involved in an accident and repaired privately.
He said he did not report the accident to the police or his insurance company.
He said he was staying with his cousin, Nkosi, on the day in question and that Nkosi had woken him up, saying he had been involved in an accident with the car and alleged he had hit a dog.
According to Nkosi’s police statement, he said he took the next off-ramp to return home and had driven past the accident scene, but could not see anything because it was dark at that time.
Snodgrass’s report concluded that Pickavance was dressed in light clothing and clearly visible to approaching vehicles.
“The vehicle strayed over the yellow line, which resulted in the front left side colliding with the pedestrian. This indicates that the driver was not paying attention to where he was driving or had fallen asleep behind the wheel,” the report said. He said Nkosi failed in his duties as a driver in not stopping, even after seeing the blood on his bumper.
He also said the extent of the damage should have been a clear sign that Nkosi’s initial assessment of an animal being hit was unfounded.
Pickavance’s mother told the Daily News on Tuesday that her family had attended each day of the trial and had been waiting for this day.
Her son had, at the time, just moved to a flat in Kloof, after securing a computer job in the area.
“My son was a very bright boy. Things were going right for him,” Susan said.
She was grateful to Snodgrass and Ganas for their hard work and said this period had been a horrific time for their family.