Motorist convicted for cyclist's death starts jail time after seven years
The move has been welcomed by the Pedal Power Association (PPA), whose chairperson said finally the legal system had worked for them.
Geoffrey Merrick was sentenced to three years behind bars after being found guilty of culpable homicide as well as three Road Act infringements when, in 2013, he crashed into Dr Koos Roux who was cycling with his son Kobus on Bottelary Road between Kuilsriver and Stellenbosch.
Merrick had allegedly fled the scene and police arrested him 10 days later when debris found was matched to his car.
This week he withdrew his appeal, which means he will now go to jail as he has been out on bail.
PPA chairperson Rens Rezelman said they were happy with the development.
The association made representations in the case when it was in the Kuilsriver Magistrate’s Court.
“Cyclists are vulnerable on the road and will always come out second best in a collision. In this case we had the law on our side,” Rezelman said.
Kobus, now 26, said the family welcomed the appeal withdrawal, and they were happy Merrick would be serving time.
Kobus was still at university when the incident happened seven years ago.
He said life had been tough, and they continuously worked through the loss.
“I am happy that he is taking responsibility,” Kobus said.
Facebook action group Stay wide of the rider, in reacting to the case, said it was the first time a prison sentence had been handed down in a fatal hit-and-run involving a cyclist in South Africa.
“The National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996, states:
Section 61 (1) (a), “that the driver, must immediately stop the vehicle and report the accident;
Section 61 (1) (b) - ascertain the nature and extent of any injury sustained by any person; and
Section 61 (1) (c ) - if a person is injured, render such assistance to the injured person as he or she may be capable of rendering,” they said.
Rezelman said the PPA was continuing to work to bring awareness to cyclists’ safety.
He said a milestone was reached in 2012 when the legislature passed the Western Cape Provincial Road Traffic Act, which allowed for, among others, the regulation requiring all vehicles overtaking cyclists to ensure that there was a safe distance of at least 1.5 metres between them.