Drag racing charge dropped against driver in 2017 'mistaken identity' case
Durban - After years of facing criminal charges for his alleged need for speed, a Durban student was found not guilty of being a drag racer and now has to play catch up with his peers to get his life back on track.
Sasheel Bhugwandeen was arrested in his white Volkswagon Golf on Chris Hani (North Coast) Road, which is notorious for illegal street racing at night, in July 2017.
Bhugwandeen was accused and charged at Greenwood Park Police station for racing on public roads and reckless or negligent driving.
He then appeared in Durban Magistrate’s Court where he pleaded not guilty and made representations to have the charges against him dropped.
But at the time the province’s director of public prosecutions took the decision in May 2018 to go ahead and prosecute Bhugwandeen, stating it was “in the interest of justice”.
In April last year his trial began where he was represented by attorney Jothi Chellan-Govender.
Last month Bhugwandeen was found not guilty of all charges.
The 23-year-old said he was now excited to move on from what he called a case of “mistaken identity”.
“Your early 20s are considered to be the beginning of your adult life, it is when you immerse yourself in the thought of endless possibilities of the future, however, the last three years have been anything but promising.
“I was wrongfully accused and arrested when I stopped at a nearby garage on my way home one night after being mistaken for someone else and my life took a turn for the worst,” he said.
Bhugwandeen said while everyone around him was making plans for their future, his life had fallen apart.
“I had plans and was ready to begin my studies but unfortunately our justice system had felt otherwise. Due to me having to face endless court appearances that were constantly adjourned resulting in many days wasted, my life became increasingly difficult as the case hung over my head and the undue pressure I was experiencing.
“We were inundated with legal bills and the effects of the case had become too much to bear but I thankfully had the unwavering support of my family. It has truly been a trying time for us all. Now with all that being said, I am filled with a sense of gratitude to finally able to put this all behind me and begin the next chapter of my life,” said Bhugwandeen.