November 26 2013 at 03:47pm By SAPA
Pretoria - Judgment will be delivered on Wednesday in the trial of Sibusiso Langa, accused of crashing his car into a group of joggers in Midrand, killing five people.
The State has asked for Langa's conviction on five charges of murder, one of attempted murder, and one of drunk driving but the defence argued he should be acquitted on all charges.
Langa has denied guilt on charges of murdering Reneilwe Lesenyeho, Gaolojwe Tlale, Moroesi Mokoatsi, Given Mills, and Nomvula Dumako, attempting to murder Abegail Stengile, and drunk driving.
The mechanical engineer has denied being drunk, speeding, driving recklessly, and hitting the joggers while he was on the wrong side of the road.
Langa claimed in his evidence he had found the runners in the middle of the road as he came around a blind corner.
He said he had seen another car coming from the front just before the accident.
An eye witness, Stengile, and an accident reconstruction expert testified that the joggers were on the right hand side of the road when Langa hit them.
Prosecutor Mervyn Menigo conceded the State had not proved that Langa had been intoxicated to a degree that excluded his criminal capacity to commit the crimes.
He argued that Langa was driving under the influence of liquor at between 108 km/h and 113 km/h in a 60 km/h zone on the wrong side of the road at the time.
Menigo argued that Langa's claim that the joggers had run into his path should be rejected, as it was not supported by any of the objective facts.
He said Langa's attempts to explain why the deceased and Stengile were on the right hand side of the road were “feeble and unintelligible” and his version of the accident improbable.
It was also improbable that Langa would only have consumed a glass of wine and two light beers while socialising for almost six hours before the accident, he said.
Given the facts in the case Langa had foreseen the possibility that entering a bend in the road at a high speed could result in a collision that could cause his death or the death of other road users.
“Road deaths resulting from collisions where drivers were under the influence of alcohol continue to plague South Africa.
“...In a study of aggressive road behaviour in South Africa, out of a sample of 1600 drivers, a tenth of drivers sampled acknowledged driving under the influence of alcohol and on average they did so four out of ten times when the opportunity arose.
“...All South Africans should be able to use the roads without fear of being struck or collided with by a drunk driver,” he said.
Menigo argued that the recent “lenient” approach adopted by the courts had done nothing to improve safety on the roads and promoted a culture of “violence”, which deprived other road users of their constitutional right to freedom and security of person.
Langa's lawyer Richard Mkhabela argued that the only eyewitness to the accident could not be trusted when he said it had happened on the right hand side of the road.
This was because the witness had lied about Langa trying to flee the scene in a tow truck, while the tow truck driver denied this.
He said the State had not proved that skid marks on the right hand side of the road came from Langa's vehicle and said his client's version that he had been on the correct side of the road when the runners entered his path was reasonably possibly true.
Mkhabela submitted the State had not proved its case on the charges of drunk driving and murder or even culpable homicide, and said Langa was entitled to an acquittal.