Stiff sentence sought for Hummer driver

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iol news pic Indi Chiyabu

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Indi Chiyabu accused of killing two motorcylists and injuring another, at the Pretoria North magistrates court. File picture: Phill Magakoe

Pretoria - The Hummer driver who crashed into three motorcyclists, killing two and causing a third to lose a limb, was irresponsible, the Pretoria North Regional Court heard on Thursday.

 Submitting evidence in aggravation of the sentencing of Zambian Indi Himalindi Chiyabu, prosecutor Tanya Carstens called for a stiff jail term.

"He was entrusted to drive the expensive vehicle of his mother, and was someone who had been entrusted with a driver’s licence by the authorities," she said.

"An expert testified that when the accident happened, the accused did not have control over the vehicle. He left the scene in contravention of the law and only handed himself in five days after."

Chiyabu was using a Zambian driver's licence at time of the accident, on Rachel de Beer Road, Pretoria, in October 2010. The Hummer and two of the motorcycles caught fire, and Chiyabu fled the scene.

Pieter Coetzee, 49, and JP Kruger, 32, died at the scene. Coetzee's son Pieter survived, but had to have a leg amputated.

Carstens said road accidents and carnage were rampant in South Africa and the court had to impose a firm punishment which would serve as a deterrent to other road users.

She submitted figures released by Transport Minister Ben Martins after the 2013 Easter holidays, showing that at least 241 people had died in 201 road accidents.

According to Carstens, he said the figures were higher than those of the previous year, when there were 217 deaths in 181 accidents.

In February, Chiyabu was found guilty on two counts of culpable homicide, instead of murder.

The court found it could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill the two motorcyclists.

The cyclists were members of the Christian Motorcyclists' Association SA.

Several of its members, and Coetzee, were in court on Thursday.

In previous proceedings, magistrate Ben van Schalkwyk said in his opinion the motorcyclists could not have avoided the Hummer, and that Chiyabu was entirely responsible for the crash.

During arguments in mitigation of sentence, Chiyabu’s lawyer Makhi Nogaga described the accident as a tragedy.

"We concede that a tragedy that has cost lives and left a young man without a limb has occurred. It is an undesirable situation: death is irreversible."

However, Chiyabu should not be punished for the offences of other drivers who contributed to the rising road death toll, he submitted.

"The sins of this country must not be inflicted on this young man. He must be punished for his own."

He told the court there had been no agreement regarding Chiyabu’s offer of a financial settlement to those affected by the accident. - Sapa


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