Durban - The wife of a Durban man, who was killed in a horror crash seven years ago, said on Tuesday that the driver had been “let off too easily”.
Shamin Sugreem spoke to The Mercury after uMhlanga businessman Desen Naidoo, who was convicted of culpable homicide in connection with her husband Mervin’s death, was sentenced to six years in jail, wholly suspended for five years.
The sentence was suspended on condition that Naidoo was not convicted of culpable homicide or reckless and negligent driving during the suspension period.
Naidoo, 39, an auto engineer, was also ordered to serve three years of correctional supervision.
Naidoo’s modified Chevrolet Lumina crashed into Sugreem’s VW Polo at the intersection of North Coast and Effingham roads in May 2007.
Sugreem, who was flung out of his vehicle, died instantly.
The impact was so severe that the Polo was ripped in two and the engine was detached from the car’s chassis.
Naidoo, who confirmed that he raced cars as a hobby, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Durban regional magistrate Thomas Nhleko convicted Naidoo as he said he had failed to keep a proper lookout and had driven through the intersection at an excessive speed.
Speaking outside court, Shamin said she was “not happy” with the sentence.
“I expected more. My family and I have gone through a lot of pain and heartache. The sentence was supposed to send a message to other drivers to not be reckless, but I do not think it will.”
She said she had told a probation officer, who handed in a pre-sentencing report and recommended a suspended sentence with correctional supervision, that she wanted justice.
“I was told the court would have to take into account that he (Naidoo) is a father and husband, but I lost my husband and, my children, their father.”
She added that Naidoo had not apologised to her family.
Handing down sentence, magistrate Nhleko lamented the “carnage” on the roads.
“Every day innocent people are dying in accidents caused by drivers who drive at excessive speeds and by those who consume alcohol. There is an outcry from society for the courts to mete out appropriate sentences to deter offenders.”
Nhleko said while the pain and anguish of Sugreem’s family could not be measured, Naidoo had to be given “a second chance”.
He said there were a number of mitigating factors in Naidoo’s favour, including that his business employed 16 people and that he did charitable work at schools and for the KwaZulu-Natal Society for the Blind.
As part of the correctional supervision sentence, Naidoo would be placed under house arrest and has to perform 16 hours of community service.
He will also not be allowed to “use drugs or abuse alcohol” for the duration of the sentence and would have to attend prescribed correctional programmes. Nhleko did not suspend Naidoo’s driver’s licence as he said he had been driving without incident since the 2007 crash.