Taxi driver gets 12 years for student‘s murder

Hendrick Mphande
A TAXI driver with two previous convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol was yesterday sentenced to an effective 12 years in prison for killing university student Jason Kruger two years ago.
Kruger, 20, of Sedgefield, a first- year linguistics student at NMMU, was knocked off his bicycle by a taxi near the campus in February 2009.
Initially, Luthando Lennox Bonkolo, 40, of NU5, Motherwell, was charged with culpable homicide, but this was later changed to murder.
Bonkolo, who was granted R1000 bail on December 10 last year, pleaded guilty to murder and driving under the influence of alcohol. The level of alcohol in his blood was found to be about five times the legal limit of 0.05g per 100ml when the accident happened in Admiralty Road, Summerstrand.
State prosecutor Mark Drimann yesterday emphasised the seriousness of the offence and requested a jail term.
Earlier, defence attorney Robin O‘Brien said his client was remorseful for his actions and had requested forgiveness from the Kruger family for their loss.
He said it was a tragedy that had not only changed the lives of the Krugers, but also of his client, who was unable to sleep at night and drank excessively thereafter.
Earlier, Jason‘s father, Zwai Kruger, told the court he and his family, particularly his wife, were struggling to come to terms with the loss of their first-born.
“It‘s difficult to accept what happened and it‘s something you do not get used to,” he said.
Kruger, who is a lawyer by profession, said he accepted Bonkolo‘s apology. Whatever sentencing Bonkolo got, it would not bring his son back.
Magistrate Dewald Allers said the pain and suffering of the Kruger family had not escaped him. “To raise a boy and send him to a varsity in a foreign city takes guts, and to hear that he has passed away is devastating,” Allers said.
He cautioned taxi drivers against reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Bonkolo was jailed for 12 years for murder and two years for driving under the influence of alcohol. However, the court ordered that the sentences run concurrently.
The university yesterday welcomed the sentence. “It will not bring Jason back, but we are hopeful the sentence sends out a clear message that abusing the rules of the road will not be tolerated,” said NMMU spokesman Roslyn Baatjies.
Click here for more on this story in our e-Edition on Thursday.

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