Johannesburg - The public gallery of a Soweto courtroom celebrated on Thursday as Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye's bid to appeal against his murder conviction and sentence was denied.
“We are happy,” said a mother of one of the schoolchildren who died, when Maarohanye and co-accused Themba Tshabalala crashed into a group of schoolchildren while drag racing in Protea North on March 8, 2010.
“We can peacefully sleep at night,” she said in the Protea Magistrate's Court.
Magistrate Brian Nemavhidi said based on all the facts before the court the applications by Maarohanye and Tshabalala failed.
Tshabalala had wanted to appeal his conviction.
On December 5 last year, the same court sentenced them to 20 years imprisonment each for murder and four years for attempted murder.
For use of drugs, driving under the influence of drugs, and racing on a public road, they received a year for each count, to run concurrently.
Prince Mohube, Mlungisi Cwayi, Andile Mthombeni, and Phomello Masemola were killed. Frank Mlambo and Fumani Mushwana were left permanently brain damaged when the two Mini-Coopers crashed into the group.
Janet, Mohube's mother, said her family had been unable to sleep for two days prior to the appearance.
“We lost lives in this accident and every time we come to court we are reminded of that,” she said.
“Now we are happy. They deserve to be in jail. They are just wasting money because they have it - we cannot afford to come to court every time, but will if we have to.”
She said the schoolchildren would have finished school last year and hopefully would have gone to tertiary education this year “was it not for those two (Maarohanye and Tshabalala)”.
Joel, Mushwana's father, said although he missed the appearance he heard that Tshabalala and Maarohanye would remain in jail and said he would share the news with his son.
“They deserved to be in jail - so let them stay in jail.” Mpumi, Masemola's mother, also said she was very happy.
“We lost our children and they deserve to be in jail.”
The lawyers of both men argued on grounds of evidence in front of the court and doctrine of common law, stating that they did not know each other before the accident and should not have been on trial together.
Rudi Krause, for Maarohanye, argued that according to the evidence before the court, Tshabalala's car crashed into a group of schoolchildren.
Mlungiseleli Soviti, for Tshabalala, was also arguing for leave to appeal on the grounds of the evidence.
However, State prosecutor Raymond Mathenjwa argued that both men wanted to be found not responsible for the death and injuries of the schoolchildren.
“The two accused showed their togetherness by racing,” he added.
“The court should consider the accumulative effect of all the evidence... There is no full bench that will ever take the application of the accused seriously... This case is costing revenue for the department of justice and clogging the court roll of appeal.”
Maarohanye and Tshabalala were found guilty on October last year.
Tshabalala, in shackles, wore blue jeans, an orange shirt, and brown jacket. Maarohanye, also in shackles, was clad in black trousers and a white shirt, and had his hair neatly braided.
Both men sat in the dock carefully listening to Nemavhidi as he said that both applicants failed to convince the court that they have prospects of success in another court.
“Based on this fact Ä the application has failed,” he said.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokeswoman Phindi Louw said it was not the end of the line for Maarohanye and Tshabalala as the justice system allowed for them to appeal the matter further (the Supreme Court of Appeal).
“They can still apply for bail, pending leave to appeal,” she added.
“As the NPA we have not received any notice of an appeal from either Tshabalala or Maarohanye.” - Sapa