Durban - Burry Stander’s family was in shock on Tuesday after the State was forced to drop its charges against the taxi driver involved in the 25-year-old Olympic cyclist’s death earlier this year.
“The system is failing us, I don’t know what to do,” said Stander’s wife, Cherise.
“From what I know the State has a strong case. It has been six months, they should have had enough time. I am very worried that the case will get thrown out.”
Stander was killed when he collided with a taxi, allegedly driven by 24-year-old Njabulo Nyawose, while cycling in Shelly Beach in January. He died on impact. Nyawose was subsequently arrested and charged with culpable homicide.
When Nyawose appeared in the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, public prosecutor Nozipho Maseko asked for the case to be remanded for three weeks as they had not reached a decision on whether to prosecute Nyawose.
Magistrate Piet Coetzee refused, saying it had already been delayed three times.
Cherise was not present and only heard about the charges being dropped when she was contacted by The Mercury.
“I thought about going, but to sit there and face the accused, I don’t know what I would do,” she said, adding that no one from the prosecutor’s office had been in touch with her or any other members of Stander’s family regarding the case.
“Someone must be held accountable for Burry’s death. It is not only about Burry, it is that an innocent life was taken and we expected a fair trial.”
Stander’s brother, Duane, said there was no accountability when lives were lost on the roads and the prolonging of his brother’s case sent out the wrong message to errant drivers.
“People drive however they want on our roads. Someone lost their life and no one is being held responsible.”
Duane said his family had always seen Stander’s accident as a “clear cut case” and Tuesday’s news was a shock.
“Justice is not going to be served. It is disappointing and sad.”
Nyawose first appeared in court on January 7 and was released on a warning with the case postponed for further investigation.
He appeared next in March when it was again postponed. At the time this was marked as the final postponement. However, when Nyawose again appeared, in May, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) requested another postponement for a decision to be taken on whether or not to prosecute him.
When Nyawose appeared on Tuesday Maseko told the court that the DPP had still not reached a decision and again requested a postponement.
“What is the reason for the delay?” Coetzee asked, but Maseko did not have details.
Nyawose’s lawyer, Xolile Ntshulana, objected that it prejudiced his client to repeatedly arrange and pay for legal representation.
Coetzee agreed and refused the request to postpone. He warned though that Nyawose was not acquitted and should the DPP decide to prosecute he could be subpoenaed later.
DPP spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson said:
“A decision could not be made in the allocated time frame.”
Accident reconstruction specialist Craig Proctor Parker said there was no reason why the case should not go ahead.
“The longer you leave it, the harder it will be. The State has a strong case, but it is not clear cut. There might be a glitch, perhaps a witness is unavailable.”
Stander finished fifth in the men’s mountain bike event at last year’s London Olympic Games, and was the first South African to win the Cape Epic, which he did in 2011 with Swiss partner Christopher Sauser.