JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng - It was in the interest of justice and driver safety that truck driver Isaac Maruding, accused of killing three people in a huge pile-up, stay behind bars, the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court heard on Wednesday (Oct 22).
REPEAT OFFENDER: Isaac Maruding, the truck driver accused of causing the death of three people in a crash involving 48 vehicles in Alberton, appeared at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court on October 22. Image: SAPA
Prosecutor John Ntuli said: "People who drive recklessly should be kept behind bars." He added that releasing Maruding would send out wrong message to the public."
Maruding, a married father of two young children, faces three charges of culpable homicide and another of reckless or negligent driving.
ALBERTON HORROR CRASH
The truck he was driving was involved in a series of crashes involving 48 vehicles in a traffic jam on the N12 East, Alberton, on the morning of October 14.
Three people were killed, seven remain critically injured and 19 sustained minor injuries. Maruding says his brakes failed.
The court heard that in 1996, while employed as a taxi driver, he was tried for culpable homicide and reckless or negligent driving. He was found not guilty of the culpable homicide charge but given an 18-month suspended jail sentence for reckless driving.
Two years later he was found guilty of culpable homicide in a separate matter. His suspended sentence came into effect and he spent 18 months behind bars. His licence was endorsed for a year.
TO PLEAD NOT GUILTY
After his employer's lawyers terminated their services last week Maruding's family appointed advocate Mokhele Salemane to argue his case. Reading from Maruding's affidavit, Salemane told the court his client would plead not guilty to all charges.
Maruding asked for bail, saying he could not support his family from behind bars. He undertook not to meddle in the state's case and said he would hand over his licence and not drive.Ntuli, however, said whether Maruding's licence should be taken away would only be established during the trial. He argued that Maruding had no other means of supporting his family other than driving, so there was no guarantee he would not do so.
LEFT THE SCENE
Police Warrant Officer Joas Phokungwane, who arrested Maruding a day after the crash, agreed. He said Maruding left the scene of the crash and was arrested in Potchefstroom, with the help of his employer, the next day (Oct 15).
Phokungwane said he asked Maruding why he left the crash scene and the truck driver responded that a traffic officer had told him he could. Phokungwane found no traffic officer who could attest to this. Maruding followed proceedings through a Sotho-speaking interpreter.
He was wearing blue overalls, as he did in court earlier in October, and tried to hide his face from the media but as proceedings progressed he turned around to look at his family who sat in the third bench of the gallery.
Magistrate Samuel Hlubi was expected to rule on the bail application on Monday (Oct 27).