Cape Town -
Jake Wootton and Jaime Forknall first met when they were two. They went through school together and started matric together. And Jaime was there when Jake was hit and killed by a car driven by an allegedly drunken driver.
On Monday, Forknall, 19, was the first State witness in the trial of Schalk Lubbe, 24, in the Strand Regional Court. Lubbe has pleaded not guilty to culpable homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol. His blood-alcohol level at the time is unknown because his blood was never drawn, State prosecutor Nazlee Abdeljaoued confirmed.
At the time, Transport MEC Robin Carlisle criticised the police’s handling of the case, calling it “scandalous”. He was concerned that the police’s oversights and shortcomings on the night of the crash might have weakened the case against Lubbe.
Jake, 18, was head boy of Milnerton High School, and his death in April last year after the accident in Hermanus sent shockwaves through the school. Principal Paul Besener said at the time that Jake was sorely 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 supposed to speak at both.”
Forknall testified that he and a group of seven friends set out on foot to the Hermanus beachfront on the evening of April 4 to go to two local pubs for drinks.
Forknall, 19, of Table View, said he had had two shots of alcohol and two bottles of Smirnoff Spin at Cocos and Barney’s, before walking home to Dirkie Uys Street.
At about 11.30pm, the group decided to walk to a friend’s home. En route Forknall piggybacked Jake “just for fun”. A short while later he heard someone shout “car!”
Forknall dived to safety. “Jake was behind me, I thought he was out of the way.”
Jake was struck by Lubbe’s silver Hyundai i20, and died three days later. He was kept on life support for a further day so his organs could be donated.
Forknall told the court he had known Jake since he was two and that they were close friends. He said Jake’s death had adversely affected his final results.
“It had an effect on my matric mark, it lowered it, that’s all I can say,” said Forknall.
Earlier, Marius Broeksma, for Lubbe, queried Forknall’s claim that the friends had gone to both Cocos and Barney’s.
He had not mentioned Barney’s in his statement, Broeksma said.
“That’s how I remembered it,” Forknall said.
The trial continues on Tuesday.