Durban - A taxi driver has been found guilty of killing a Verulam grandfather.
On Friday, Magistrate Jenny Pillay found Siyabonga Patrick Hlongwa, 37, guilty of culpable homicide, in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court.
In September last year, Hlongwa knocked down Harichund Kandhailall.
The artisan carpenter, 64, was walking outside Midas, on Ireland Street in Verulam, shortly after he purchased oil for his bakkie, when Hlongwa knocked into him. He sustained multiple blunt force injuries to his body.
Video footage played in court showed the driver then leave the scene.
During proceedings, Hlongwa’s attorney, Chris Gounden, said his client went to Midas to buy a side mirror for his minibus taxi. While at the store, he had an argument with someone.
He said he went to the taxi and was talking to someone standing on his right. His attention was diverted and, without seeing Kandhailall on the left-hand side of the taxi, he accelerated and mounted a kerb.
Hlongwa said police arrived at his home on October 2 last year, claiming he knocked into someone.
“But I had no knowledge of it. Only after I saw video footage, I accepted it was my vehicle and I was the driver.”
He was charged with murder and contravening sections of the National Road Traffic Act.
This included failing to immediately stop his vehicle, failing to ascertain if anyone was injured, failing to render assistance to the injured person, and failing to report the accident.
Earlier in the trial, Ashraf Ismail, an employee at Midas, said they did not have the chrome mirror the accused wanted. This resulted in Hlongwa getting angry that he was being sold a normal black side mirror.
“Before he left the store, he said, ‘You Indians think y’all can sell us anything and we will take it but I won’t’. I told him not to say that and called security.”
Magistrate Pillay said even though Hlongwa accelerated left to leave the premises, he remained engaged with the person on his right-hand side.
“It does not seem probable that he would risk damaging his vehicle in order to climb the kerb and hit the deceased. The fact that he did was because he was looking right. All evidence shows that he was grossly negligent and he should have considered that there may have been a pedestrian to his left,” said Magistrate Pillay.
Khandhailall’s son, Daryl, said his mother and sisters were still dealing with the loss.
“On the day of the incident, my mother received a call that my dad’s cellphone was found. I thought he was hijacked and I went to the police station with my wife. I was shocked when the police told me about the accident. All I could think about was how I was going to break the news to my mother.”
He said his dad had intended retiring and they hoped to start a business.