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Blue-light crash driver guilty

2013-12-04 08:52

PARENTS IN PAIN: Priscilla and Paul Ferreira, parents of Thomas who was knocked off a motorcycle by a VIP car. INSET: Blue-light driver Joseph Motsamai Semitjie who left their son brain-damaged. Image: Sapa

Getrude Makhafola

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng - Blue-light BMW X5 driver Joseph Motsamai Semitjie ignored the safety of other road users when he collided with teenage motorcyclist Thomas Ferreira, the Krugersdorp Magistrate's Court ruled on Tuesday.

Semitjie, chauffeur to former Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi, was found guilty of negligent and reckless driving by magistrate Abdul Khan, who said: "The accused did not enter the intersection when it was safe to do so,and therefore failed to take due regard for the safety of others and himself."

Semitjie went through a red traffic light while to the left of the yellow line in Paardekraal Drive, Krugersdorp, on the West Rand, on Saturday, November 5, 2011. The collision with Ferreira, then 18, inflicted severe head injuries on the boy and he was comatose for weeks.

NO SIREN, NO HELP

Witnesses testified they did not hear a siren on the X5. Khan said the court was satisfied with the witnesses' testimony; there was no reason why they would lie.

"The accused neglected to switch on the siren as per regulations governing the relevant Traffic Act. He did not make himself visible to other road users. He entered the intersection while other vehicles were moving."

Semitjie, who was uninjured, did not offer any assistance to Ferreira after the crash. Instead he spent time on his cellphone.

"He was able to assess himself and damages to the vehicle he was driving," the magistrate said. "No evidence presented showed that the accused was unable to assist the motorcyclist at the scene."

'DIFFICULT JOURNEY'

Ferreira's mother Priscilla said outside the court she was satisfied that justice had been served. "Thomas could not testify and the court relied on witnesses who were on the scene to find out what happened. We have been hoping for justice through the law," she said outside the courtroom.

It had been a difficult journey for the family and for her son, who will be 21 in January. "Brain injuries have a lot of negativity and difficulty. It is still not an easy one for us."

The case was adjourned to March 13 when Semitjie will be sentenced.
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