Durban - The driver accused of killing 24 people when his lorry crashed through an intersection was denied bail in the Pinetown Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.
Supporters of Sanele Goodness May cried and held each other after magistrate Wendolyn Robinson left the court.
Robinson said May, a Swazi citizen, was in the country illegally.
To grant him bail on the condition that he stayed in South Africa meant “the court would be required to legalise his 1/8residency 3/8 status while he was awaiting trial”.
Courts, she said, did not have such authority.
The prosecution argued last week that it had a strong case against May and that he was a flight risk. It also argued that he should be kept in custody for his own safety.
Louis Barnard, for May, argued last week that his client should never have been charged with murder but with culpable homicide.
He had urged the court to release May into the care of an uncle and that both the uncle as well as the Swaziland High Commission would assist in his repatriation back to South Africa for trial.
Handing down her decision on Tuesday, Robinson rejected Barnard's arguments saying she could not speculate on what charges May would ultimately face.
“It is not for this court to decide the eventual charges this applicant will face.”
May faces the 24 murder charges after his truck ploughed into four minibus taxis and two cars at an intersection at the bottom of Fields Hill on the M13 in Pinetown on September 5.
Twenty-two people were killed on the scene and two later died from their injuries.
May was initially charged with culpable homicide but this was subsequently upgraded to murder.
Robinson said sending May back to Swaziland pending trial was not possible as the court had no jurisdiction to impose bail conditions on him in Swaziland.
There was “a clear indication that he moved between South Africa and the Kingdom of Swaziland without going between border posts”.
She said apart from a cousin, May had no family or assets that would keep him in the country.
“He has nothing but a criminal charge hanging over his head,” she said.
May remained in custody and was ordered to appear by video link in the Pinetown Magistrate's Court on November 27.