Pretoria - Mechanical engineer Sibusiso Langa has been jailed for an effective 12 years for driving into a group of joggers in Midrand, killing five.
Langa, 47, did not show much emotion as Pretoria High Court Judge Bert Bam sentenced him. The judge also ordered that Langa’s driver’s licence be cancelled.
Relatives of the runners hugged each other after the sentencing while a smartly dressed Langa made his way down to the holding cells. They said they were generally satisfied with the sentence, although they would have preferred a longer stint in jail.
“I don’t think it is enough, but it is better than nothing,” Mpontseng Senyego, sister of Reneilwe Lesenyeho, said. She said she hoped the families would now be able to get some closure.
“It is going to be a difficult road and I so wish I could have spoken to Langa, but he was never interested in speaking to us.”
Mashudu Mills, mother of runner Given Mills, said she had mixed emotions regarding the sentence, but she could not criticise it. “We will now walk down the long road to healing and trying to get closure. I will try and pick up the pieces.”
Given’s sister, Rofhiwa, said she was not sure she could forgive Langa for being responsible for her sister’s death. “He showed no remorse for killing Given and the others; she was a lovely, kind-hearted person who always had time for everyone.”
Judge Bam also referred to the fact that Langa showed no remorse.
“The defence said he had remorse, but he showed no remorse at all. The fact that he regretted what he had done, is not remorse,” said Judge Bam, adding that while he is not holding this against Langa, true remorse would have aided his case.
Mills, 30, Lesenyeho, 31, Isaac Tlale, 37, Nomvula Dumako, 35 ,and Margaret Mokoatso, 35, were killed when Langa ploughed into them on the morning of October 22, 2011. Abigail Stengile was the only one of the group of runners who survived the accident.
Langa was convicted on five charges of culpable homicide, which the judge on Wednesday took together as one for sentencing. Apart from the 12 years, Langa was also sentenced to an additional two years’ imprisonment for driving under the influence of alcohol. The two years will run concurrently with the 12 years.
From the start Langa maintained that he could not have avoided the accident as the runners ran into his lane. He said he never saw them as they were directly in front of him as he came around a bend.
But the court rejected this and found Langa was on the wrong side of the road, in the lane of the runners. Apart from this, he was driving his powerful Mercedes Benz at excessive speed while under the influence of alcohol.
“He was a menace on the road that day,” the judge remarked.
He said Langa had no regard for other road users, and while driving recklessly while under the influence he knew he could kill someone. “He was grossly negligent.”
Judge Bam added that Langa did not show any compassion for his victims after driving into them.
Stengile was lying on the ground, groaning in pain as her leg was broken, and bodies were strewn around the scene, yet Langa was more concerned about the damage to his car. He even walked away from the accident scene, the judge said.
He said that government had embarked on campaigns to curb the carnage on our roads but this seemed to have had little effect.
He said it was up to the court to ensure that reckless drivers who killed people felt the full brunt of the law.
Trott Mpahlele, a prosecutor whose partner, Dumako, the mother of his child, was one of the victims, said this was a brilliant sentence in law. Devastated by Dumako’s death, he said their son, now four, no longer remembered her.
He was running a marathon in Pretoria while she was training for her first long-distance marathon in Midrand. “I only received the news after I completed my race. I first thought it was only her, then I heard it was also her best childhood friend, Mokoatso. I was then told that it was actually five runners.”
Mpahlele said life without his partner was difficult, but he will now have to come to terms with her death.