News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday April 21st 2019

Suggestion of suspended sentence for Humphrey’s ‘unfair’ to victims’ families

A suspended sentence for the man found guilty of murdering 10 children when the taxi he was driving collided with a train was just not suitable and the minimum sentence should be imposed, the state argued in the Western Cape High Court heard yesterday.

Before a gallery packed with family members of the victims, state prosecutor Susan Galloway said Jacob Humphreys, 56, should receive a lengthy sentence so as to send a warning to other taxi drivers who put passengers’ lives in danger with reckless driving.

In her closing argument, Galloway rejected the idea that Humphreys receive a suspended sentence as posed by the defense.

The conviction of murder handed down to Humphreys following the accident which occurred after he sped past a queue of waiting cars and ignored warning signs of an approaching train at the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath on August 25 2010, was lauded by Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele and Transport MEC Robin Carlisle and was groundbreaking in that motorists were usually charged with the lesser crime of culpable homicide.

Arguing against a suspended sentence, Galloway said the courts should not be blinded by the age of the accused or that he was a first offender because “he was in possession of trust and knew what he was doing”.

He did not show “any remorse” during the trial, Galloway told presiding Judge Robert Henney.

Galloway said it is in the interest of justice and that of community that Humphreys, who was granted R20 000 bail, be sent to directly to prison.

Humphreys was also convicted of four counts of attempted murder related to four children who survived the crash.

Arguing in mitigation of Humphrey’s sentence, his legal representative Johann Engelbrecht argued that the court should consider that the incident was a once-off action and was not planned.

“It was a moment of stupidity,” Engelbrecht told the court.

He said Humphreys still maintained he could not remember what happened after he drove on the wrong side of the road and the accident was not deliberate.  He asked Judge Henney to look at the facts before imposing his sentence.

“He does not deny that he drove on the wrong side of the road.  We accept the guilty verdict but Mr. Humphries still maintains he can’t remember, although we know this explanation has been rejected by the court,” he said.

NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila, outside court, said for the defense to suggest a suspended sentence was “unfair to the families of the deceased and the survivors”.

“We asked for minimum sentence for each of the counts.  Drivers must understand that if you get behind the wheel, the vehicle might become a murder weapon,” said Ntabazalila.

Sentencing is due to be delivered in the High Court on Monday. – Sandiso Phaliso

Tags: Blackheath, Buttskop level crossing, Eric Ntabazalila, Jacob Humphreys, Johann Engelbrecht, Judge Robert Henney, Robin Carlisle, Sbu Ndebele, Susan Galloway, Western Cape High Court

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