Blackheath taxi driver Jacob Humphreys has been found guilty on 10 murder and 4 attempted murder charges, a report says.
Humphreys was transporting children to school in a taxi on August 25 last year when he allegedly overtook a row of cars and ignored safety signals at the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath. A train hit the taxi and 10 of the children died.
Judge Robert Henney delivered his judgment in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
According to reports, Humphreys was remanded in custody immediately after judgment and is due back in court next February for sentencing proceedings.
The hearing comes as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) takes a tougher stance against reckless drivers.
Less than two weeks ago, the NPA announced its decision to charge people responsible for fatal car accidents with murder instead of culpable homicide.
The authority’s reasoning is that if it can be proved that a motorist foresaw the possibility of an accident, but took the risk anyway, there is a form of intention to cause death.
On Friday, Judge Henney heard final argument.
State advocate Susan Galloway said Humphreys had played “Russian Roulette” by taking a chance.
She argued that he knew there was danger because of an oncoming train. And, while he had foreseen the possibility of a fatal accident, he took a chance and therefore acted recklessly.
Humphreys’s advocate, Johann Engelbrecht SC, argued that his client had suffered from amnesia after taking a knock to the head during the accident.
Engelbrecht said that while Humphreys could remember falling in line with a row of cars and stopping, he could not remember how long he had stopped.
He could not recall the accident, and for this reason, he was not guilty of foreseeing the possibility of a crash.
Judge Henney questioned Humphreys’s defence of memory loss, saying he would have to decide on how truthful Humphreys was.
The judge also put it to Engelbrecht that if indeed his client had foreseen the possibility of an accident, putting his taxi on the railway tracks was like putting someone “in a pit full of snakes or a cage full of lions”.
“There’s oncoming trains … everyone knows you’re playing with death.” - Cape Times, IOL