JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng - The driver of the construction truck that ploughed into almost 50 vehicles in early morning traffic on the N12 East near Alberton on Tuesday (Oct 14) was a repeat offender, the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court heard on Thursday (Oct 16).
REPEAT OFFENDER: Isaac Wade Maruding, the driver who caused the multi-vehicle pile-up on the N12 near Alberton on Tuesday (Oct 14), was a repeat offender the court has heard. Image: YouTube
Earlier reports laid the blame on a Tanker Services petrol tanker that was also caught in the multiple crash but this later turned out to be incorrect.
Isaac Wade Maruding had been arrested for reckless and negligent driving in 1996. A year later, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the crime but his jail term was suspended for four years. In 1999, he was arrested and convicted of culpable homicide. His conviction invoked the suspended sentence he had received in 1997 and he subsequently spent 18 months behind bars.
The incidents were alleged to have occurred in Viljoenskroon in the Free State.
Prosecutor John Ntuli revealed the details of Maruding's previous convictions during his first court appearance after the deadly crash that occurred on Tuesday (Oct 14). The State wanted to find out if any action was taken against Maruding's licence following his convictions.
Ntuli told the court: "Since he has previous convictions, this a Schedule 5 matter."
Dressed in blue overalls, Maruding tried to hide from the media. He kept his face lowered at all times and kept his jacket pulled over his head, even when he stood up to address the magistrate.
4 DEAD, 16 INJURED
Maruding's truck smashed into dozens of cars near Voortrekker road on Tuesday (Oct 14). Two people died on the scene while two others died in hospital. Sixteen others were injured, some seriously...
Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi described this as perhaps the worst crash the province had ever had.
Authorities who were at the scene reported that Maruding claimed his brakes had failed. Ntuli, however, told the court that Maruding was not found on the scene. "He left the site of the crash... He was arrested in Potchefstroom," said Ntuli. "It needs to be established whether he ran away or what... Why did he not immediately go to the police station?" Maruding's lawyers, Gerhard Louw and Deon van Staden, who were appointed by Benusi Cargo Carriers - the trucking company he worked for - attempted to apply for bail on Thursday (Oct 16).
Ntuli opposed their application: "We are going to oppose this bail, especially for the fact that he absconded from the scene."
"And today (Thursday) was not set down for bail but for a bail appearance," he said, adding that the State needed to gather more information for the bail application.
Louw told the court he and Van Staden were unsure whether they would continue representing Maruding going forward: "We have not received instructions to proceed."
The court asked for direction from Maruding. He told the court he would appoint his own lawyers for his bail application.
Louw and Van Staden then withdrew from the case.
Asked whether he would apply for legal aid or bring in his own lawyer, Maruding said he was unsure.
Maruding, the Sotho-speaking man said through an interpreter: "It is difficult to make a decision now because I was under the impression that I already had lawyers."
'BROUGHT TO BOOK'
He had until his next court appearance on October 22 to secure a lawyer and prepare for his bail application.
Maruding is facing four charges of murder and a single charge of culpable homicide. Ntuli indicated that more charges could be added.
Speaking after the crash on Tuesday, Transport minister Dipuo Peters called for action to be taken against the truck owners if it was found that their truck was in fact faulty.
Peters said in a statement: "I urge for the harshest possible punishment to be meted out against the offenders.
"The owner of the truck should be brought to book should it be absolutely ascertained that the truck was mechanically defective."