Hit-and-run taxi driver given four years in jail

Kathryn Kimberley

A PORT Elizabeth taxi driver, convicted of culpable homicide after he skipped a red traffic light and crashed into a man on a scooter in December 2010, has been sentenced to an effective four years in prison.

Yesterday, the family of Morne Jansen van Rensburg , who died on the scene, said they hoped the court’s sentencing would send a warning to Nelson Mandela Bay motorists to adhere to the rules of the road.

Jansen van Rensburg, 25, was returning home from his night shift as a machine operator at Avron Plastics when he collided with the fully-loaded taxi at the intersection of Darling Street and Govan Mbeki Avenue. The accident occurred just before 7am on December 1 2010.

He was just metres from his Shepherd Street, North End, home when he was knocked over by the minibus taxi which had been driving in the dedicated integrated public transport bus lane.

His ribs snapped on impact, puncturing his heart.

The taxi driver, Makhaya Menzi, 40, attempted to flee the scene but was pursued by a group of bystanders who conducted a citizens’ arrest.

Menzi was charged with culpable homicide and attempting to flee the scene of an accident. But the trial was halted in the Port Elizabeth Regional Court earlier this year when witnesses to the incident failed to show up at court.

Following sentencing yesterday, the victim’s family said they were fortunate that CCTV footage in the vicinity had clearly captured the incident.

Yesterday Menzi was sentenced to six years in prison, two of which were suspended for five years, meaning he will spend four years behind bars.

Jansen van Rensburg was described as a lovable man. He had enrolled in a computer course at Varsity College and was due to start classes in the new year.

“He was very excited about that,” his brother-in-law, Werner Engel- brecht, who attended yesterday’s court proceedings, said.

Jansen van Rensburg’s sister, Veronica Engelbrecht, said: “[Menzi] is not a criminal.

“He committed a traffic offence which ultimately took someone’s life.

“But it is the negligence of drivers, particularly taxi drivers, which continues to claim innocent lives on our roads.”

Veronica said her family, while still grieving, had come to terms with Morne’s death.

“It would have been nice if the accused apologised to us in court. He had ample time to do so.”

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