MEC’s driver ‘ignored safety of others’

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THE STAR

Priscilla and Paul Ferreira, the parents of Thomas, a matric boy who was knocked down by a VIP car in November 2011. Thomas sustained severe brain injuries and is permanently brain-damaged. Photo: Dumisani Dube

Johannesburg - Blue light driver Joseph Motsamai Semitjie ignored the safety of other road users when he hit teenage motorcyclist Thomas Ferreira, the Krugersdorp Magistrate's Court ruled on Tuesday.

Semitjie, the driver of former Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi, was found guilty of negligent and reckless driving.

“The accused did not enter the intersection when it was safe to do so, and therefore failed to take due regard for the safety of others and himself,” said magistrate Abdul Khan.

Ferreira collided with the BMW X5 Semitjie was driving when it skipped a red traffic light while on the left-hand side of the yellow line in Paardekraal Drive, Krugersdorp, on the West Rand, on Saturday, November 5, 2011.

Ferreira, who was 18-years-old at the time, suffered head injuries and was comatose for weeks.

Witnesses testified they did not hear a siren on the X5.

Khan said the court was satisfied with the witnesses' testimony, and there was no reason why they would lie.

“The accused neglected to switch on the siren as per regulations governing the relevant Traffic Act. He did not make himself visible to other road users. He entered the intersection while other vehicles were moving.”

Semitjie also did not offer any assistance to Ferreira, even though he had not suffered any visible injuries himself. Instead, Semitjie was busy on his cellphone all the time, Khan said.

“He was able to assess himself and damages to the vehicle he was driving. No evidence presented showed that the accused was unable to assist the motorcyclist at the scene.”

Ferreira's mother Priscilla said she was satisfied that justice had been served.

“Thomas could not testify and the court relied on witnesses who were on the scene to find out what happened. We have been hoping for justice through the law,” she said outside the courtroom.

It had been a difficult journey for the family and for her son, who would turn 21 in January, she said.

“Brain injuries have a lot of negativity and difficulty. It is still not an easy one for us.”

The matter was postponed to March 13 for sentencing procedures.

Sapa


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