Tongaat businessman guilty of fatal crash 9 yrs ago

By Janine Moodley Time of article published Oct 29, 2020

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Durban - A TONGAAT businessman accused of causing the deaths of three friends who were carpooling nine years ago, was last week found guilty of culpable homicide.

Shalan Sewshanker, 33, drove through a red traffic light on the R102 near Ottawa on June 15, 2011, and collided with a VW Polo.

The occupants in the VW Polo, Eureka Govender, 30, and Marlon Pillay, 32, died at the scene, while Duveshnee Naicker, 24, died later in hospital.

Govender worked in the accounts department at a butchery in the Durban CBD.

Pillay, who was driving, was an accountant and Naicker was serving her articles in a law firm. They also worked in the city.

Sewshanker, who was driving a BMW, was charged with three counts of culpable homicide, one count of driving under the influence of alcohol and a further count of reckless or negligent driving.

In 2011, the case against him was withdrawn but the charges were reinstated in 2018.

Last Thursday, in the Durban Regional Court, magistrate Prithi Bhoda Khedun found Sewshanker guilty on all counts except for driving under the influence.

Khedun said the State did not prove that the accused’s ability to drive his vehicle was impaired by the consumption of alcohol.

During the trial, it was heard that the deceased were returning to their homes in Verulam when Sewshanker skipped a red traffic light and collided with their car.

Sewshanker pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He claimed that the traffic light was green and in his favour.

In his plea, read out by advocate Shane Mathews during the trial, he said there were many cars at the intersection and that his view of those vehicles turning right had been blocked.

He said the VW Polo had suddenly turned right in front of him and that there was no opportunity to take evasive action.

Sewshanker denied that he was under the influence of liquor, or was reckless or negligent.

In the heads of argument last week, Rakesh Singh, regional court prosecutor, gave a summary of the State’s case and submitted that each witness who testified was not only credible but reliable.

“Corroboration can be found for each witness testimony in another’s evidence regarding the circumstances under which the evidence unfolded.”

Singh asked the court to therefore accept the evidence of State witnesses.

He also asked the court to reject Sewshanker’s version of events, stating that he had failed to give a proper account of how he ended up driving through a red robot.

“ the court must convict the accused on all counts.”

Khedun later pronounced his verdict.He said the court rejected the accused’s evidence and found him to be an unsatisfactory witness.

Khedun based his verdict primarily on State witnesses, Veloo Chetty and Pranil Rajcoomar, both of whom he said were honest and reliable witnesses who gave their evidence in a clear and forthright manner.

As far as the other State witnesses were concerned, he said their evidence was not sufficient to show that the accused’s driving ability was affected by the consumption of alcohol.

In response to the judgment, Naicker’s father, Siva, said the ruling had brought him and his wife some relief.

He said they would only get closure once the accused was sentenced.

“We are hoping for justice to be served. This matter has been drawn out for so long and we are looking forward to its finalisation.”

Govender’s father, Pardesh Devchand, said nothing would bring his only daughter back but he was glad Sewshanker had been found guilty.

“It is heartbreaking to go to court. It brings back all those painful memories. I’ve been living in sorrow for so long.

“I am 62 now and all I want is peace. I’m glad the magistrate found him guilty but now we wait for his sentencing. But that we will leave to the Almighty. Whatever he gets will be just.”

He said he was disappointed that the accused did not show remorse for the families.

“Not once did he try to speak to us or apologise.”

Sentencing will take place next month.

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