Twelve schoolchildren who narrowly escaped injury during the alleged drag-racing incident involving musician Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye and Themba Tshabalala have been left traumatised.
This emerged in the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday during a defence witness’s testimony.
Benjamin Poloko Maseko told the court he was ferrying the 12 to their Protea Glen homes in a minibus taxi along Mdlalose Street – which he dubbed “Jub Jub Avenue” – when he avoided colliding with Tshabalala’s Mini Cooper just as it was overtaking Maarohanye’s.
“As I was driving down the road I saw a greyish black (Maarohanye’s) Mini Cooper travelling in the opposite direction (in its designated left-side lane). As I was about to pass it, I saw a blue (Tshabalala’s) Mini Cooper approaching, running very fast,” Maseko said.
“It then overtook the grey one, (and so) I swerved further to the left. I collided against the kerb… The children didn’t sustain any injuries, (but) they were traumatised.”
As he struggled to control his vehicle and get it back onto the road, Maseko then saw a lot of dust. In the dust, Maseko added, he saw the blue Mini Cooper collide with the grey one.
“The grey Mini Cooper was forced off the road into the trees. The blue one flew over it and landed in the bushes,” he said. Asked if he had seen Tshabalala’s Mini Cooper airborne, Maseko replied in the affirmative.
He had then tried to walk towards the two Mini Coopers to help the occupants, but was not able to assist as some metro police officers – who had been manning a roadblock on the Protea North side – had already cordoned off the scene.
Asked by Maarohanye’s defence counsel, Ike Motloung, to describe the speed at which Tshabalala’s Mini Cooper was travelling, Maseko said: “I can’t… but it was very fast. Had I seen it timeously, I would have been able to avoid it.”
Maseko’s story, particularly the evidence that it was in fact Tshabalala – and not Maarohanye, the main suspect – who had been overtaking, infuriated the parents of the four children who were killed and the two who were seriously injured in the accident in March 2010.
“No! That can’t be possible… He’s lying”. “Where did they get him from?” and “He has been bought” were some of the outbursts from the parents and relatives in the public gallery.
Maseko’s testimony contradicted the prosecution’s, which had already presented evidence to the effect that Maarohanye had been the driver in the right-hand lane who had been overtaking when his Mini Cooper hit Tshabalala’s.
The collision resulted in both drivers losing control as their cars ploughed into a group of schoolchildren.
Four were killed and two have been left with severe brain injuries.
Maseko said he had heard about 30 minutes after the accident that the two Mini Coopers had been racing.
Maarohanye and Tshabalala face charges including murder, attempted murder and driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
The trial continues. - The Star