JOHANNESBURG – The twenty-year sentence for three counts of culpable homicide, reckless driving and driving under the influence handed down by Magistrate Anand Maharaj to Mr Kriesen Moodley in the Durban Regional Court recently is welcomed by Justice Project South Africa.
This case proves beyond any reasonable doubt that when judicial officers are presented with properly prosecuted cases, sound convictions can result and the interests of the victims and their families, as well as those of society at large can be properly taken into account in sentencing.
Unlike where people who engage in dangerous road practices end up killing innocent road users are incorrectly prosecuted for murder, the likelihood of appealing the conviction and sentencing succeeding in this case is remote.
JPSA asserts that had the same approach have been adopted in other, high profile cases of a similar nature, the perpetrators would not have gotten off the hook as easily as they did.
The unacceptably high road carnage situation which plays itself out on South Africa’s roads on a daily basis most definitely needs to be addressed and at least part of the solution must necessarily lie in sending strong deterrent messages to those who seem to believe that killing people as a result of engaging in dangerous driving practices is a trivial affair.
This case also has the effect of proving that there is no need to seek to dispose of a person’s constitutional rights ahead of their conviction, as has been repeatedly mooted by the RTMC and the Minister of Transport. All that is required is that cases are properly prosecuted and judicial officers are provided with sufficient evidence in order to convict guilty people and sentence them accordingly.
Increased physical and visible law enforcement also has a vital role to play and would undoubtedly lead to a reduction in dangerous driving practices, and as a result, the needless losses of life and causing of unnecessary suffering, which then necessitates “harsh sentences” arising out of the unlawful killing of people on our roads.
Whilst we are aware that the case for driving whilst the concentration of a blood alcohol sample was not less than 0,05g/100ml, which is a physically separate charge to “driving under the influence of intoxication liquor or a drug having a narcotic effect” was not proven due to what would appear to be the bungling of that element of the case, the fact still remains that this man was convicted of three counts of culpable homicide and the sentences therefor were consecutive – not concurrent. The three year sentence for driving under the influence of alcohol (“drunken driving”) formed only a small proportion of the overall sentence and is not reliant on “exceeding the alcohol limit”.