Cape Town - I was driving too fast, said the young man whose two passengers were killed when his BMW crashed into a tree at the Waterfront in December 2012.
Jacobus Austin, 23, pleaded guilty to two counts of culpable homicide at Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
He apologised in court to the families of the two passengers he was driving from Shimmy Beach Club past the One and Only Hotel when he lost control of the vehicle.
Georgina Moreland, 19, was killed instantly when her body was flung from the car. Rohan Roodt, 22, later died in hospital. While Moreland had only met Austin that night, he and Roodt were cousins and had grown up together.
Neither of their families were present in court and both said Austin had never contacted them to say sorry.
But Austin’s defence attorney, William Booth, said his client was truly remorseful. Booth submitted reports to court recommending that Austin be sentenced to house arrest and community service.
One report, written by private practice social worker Anne Cawood, detailed Austin’s life and his memories of the accident.
Growing up in the Northern Province, Austin “spent a great deal of time with a maternal cousin, Rohan Roodt”. His parents divorced when he was seven, after which he moved with his mother to the Western Cape. His mother remarried and Austin claimed his stepfather beat him.
The report quotes Austin as saying: “It proved to be both physically and mentally abusive towards us all.
“I took the brunt of the beatings many times.”
After Austin completed matric at Abbott’s College, his cousin, Roodt, moved to Kuils River and the two rekindled their bond.
But the fatal night of Saturday, December 8, 2012 was to end that.
In the report, Austin said he drove his new BMW to the V&A Waterfront where he had a haircut, watched a football match and played pool with friends. At around 9pm, he drove to Kuils River to pick up Roodt.
They went back to the Waterfront to play pool, then to the Castle Bar in the city centre and on to Dizzy’s in Camps Bay. That’s where they met Moreland, who was out with friends.
The group drove to the opening party of Shimmy Beach Club, where they had sparkling wine. At 2am, Austin wanted to leave for McDonald’s, then home. Roodt and Moreland left with him.
“Jaco admits, with enormous regret, that he was possibly driving too fast and misjudged the bend in the road. He states that he was not under the influence of alcohol, but felt exhilarated driving his new car. He lost control, and has only blurred memories of the trauma thereafter.”
The report continued: “He was genuine and sincere in his need to accept that he possibly drove somewhat recklessly. He spoke, at length, about the pain and loss he feels responsible for. He expressed his current predominant feeling as ‘self-hate’ and said ‘I never stop thinking about it’.”
While Austin’s remorse will affect his sentence, it made no difference to Moreland’s mother, Louise Raynor.
Raynor remembered how her daughter would walk around UCT campus barefoot, wear crystals in her hair and spend as much time as possible with her horse, nicknamed Hobo - the name also appeared on the numberplate of her Ford Bantam bakkie.
After she died, Moreland’s friends had her initials tattooed on their ankles. For Raynor and daughter, Carla, the house is always quiet now. “She was my life and Carla’s life. There is no closure when you’ve lost the love of your life.”
Sentencing is on June 27.