Convicted bus driver Sisa Nomana, who has been found guilty of 23 counts of culpable homicide following an accident on the N1 in 2010, will have to wait until January to hear whether he will receive a custodial or a suspended sentence.
This emerged at the Cape Town Regional Court today where the warrant of arrest for Nomana following his absence from the last court proceedings, was withdrawn due to his presentation of medical certificate stating he was ill.
Although Magistate Bruce Langa had expected the matter to have been finalised yesterday following mitigation of sentencing hearings, he was forced to postpone the matter until January 30 as family members of the deceased who state prosecutor Tarantel Willem had organised to testify in aggravation of sentence, were absent.
Willem told Langa that travelling arrangements for the family members had not been concluded by the investigating officer.
However, Nomana’s legal representative Thabo Nogemane also requested a postponement as he had not been able to consult and take instructions from Nomana because Nomana was “forgetful”.
“The accused is forgetful and is currently on medication for his condition,” said Nogemane.
Nogemane said before the mitigation of sentencing procedures could occur, he needed to obtain Nomana’s “full medical report” from the Lower Crossroads Clinic.
Langa responded that he expected the court to be in possession of the medical report yesterday.
He said he would not accept any further postponements and during the next court appearance the matter would go on with or without the medical report.
Referring to Nomana, who looked weary and ill in the dock, Langa said: “It is essential that you make sure the report is before this court,” adding that “I expect you to be well enough until the next date to take part in these proceedings. This matter has to be brought to finality.”
Nomana was convicted of 23 counts of culpable homicide following his guilty plea bargain last month.
Nomona was driving a bus from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town on May 5, 2010, when he crashed on the N1 between De Doorns and Touws River, killing 23 passengers.
At the time, the bus’s roadworthy certificate had been suspended.
Nonama was taken into custody and his brother Malinga Nonama, 43, who is the registered owner of the vehicle, handed himself in to police.
The brothers were originally charged with 23 counts of murder and 53 of attempted murder, but charges were then altered to culpable homicide after a plea bargain was concluded.
Charges against Malinga have been provisionally withdrawn.
In his statement, Nonama admitted that he had been the driver of the Mercedes-Benz bus at the time of the crash and that his brother had also been on board.
He admitted a number of faults ranging from brake problems and poorly insulated wiring to malfunctioning lights.
However, a family member of one of the 23 people who died in the accident said he has “forgiven the accused and would not like him to go to jail”.
Johannes Dwangu, whose wife Asakhe Dwangu died in the crash, said: “only god would judge”.
The couple’s daughter Landile, who was three-months old at the time of the accident, was not travelling with his mother and is now in his father’s car.
“I have forgiven him with my heart. I feel sorry for him (Nonama). His sickness is clear that what happened is not sitting well with him thus I have taken the decision to forgive him. A suspended sentence would do for me.
“Although he should have known better about the condition of the bus, it was not his own fault and his life was also in danger. The man is sick and going to jail would make his health deteriorate worse,” said Dwangu. - Sandiso Phaliso