Death crash driver ‘smelt of alcohol’

Jamie Baartzes died in March 2016
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Witness describes night when NMMU student was killed

A passenger of the man accused of killing NMMU student Jamie Baartzes in an accident testified yesterday he had smelt of alcohol when he picked up her and another friend in Central before the crash.

Amos Siyayana, 29, of Motherwell, claims it was a mistake that saw him driving on the wrong side of the freeway.

He faces four charges in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court – culpable homicide, reckless and negligent driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without a valid driver’s licence.

The passenger, Siphokazi Bobela, of Walmer Township, who was Siyayana’s back-seat passenger on the night of the accident, said she and her friend had smelt alcohol on him when they climbed into his car in Parliament Street.

She said she and her friend, Nomfundo Booi, had noticed Siyayana was on the wrong side of the road after a car passed them on the left of their vehicle before the BMW ploughed head-on into Baartzes’ Chevrolet Spark.

Siyayana claimed he had stopped his vehicle on the yellow line and put the hazard lights on after he took the wrong lane when exiting the Russell Road/Govan Mbeki Avenue intersection.

“He [Siyayana] took the road with oncoming traffic [coming from Summerstrand], not the one he was supposed to,” Bobela said. “We didn’t notice until we saw oncoming cars. I called to him, ‘There is a car’, before we hit it.”

Denying any wrongdoing, Siyayana, through his defence attorney Zolilie Nqgeza, said he had not been under the influence of alcohol and had stopped his navy blue BMW 320i on the side of the M4 freeway after he realised he was on the wrong side of the road – heading towards oncoming traffic.

In a plea explanation read out by Nqgeza, Siyayana alleged Baartzes had been speeding in the emergency lane.

Baartzes, 19, a first-year foundation phase education student, died on March 15 last year after leaving the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University following an evening of studying.

She was driving home to Sunridge Park at about midnight when the BMW slammed head-on into her car near the Russell Road turnoff.

Baartzes died from her injuries while being treated at the scene by paramedics.

Police ballistics unit accident scene expert Lieutenant-Colonel Patrica Manganya said evidence showed Siyayana’s car was not stationary and the hazard lights had not been on at the time of the accident.

“The most likely sequence of events [was that] the BMW was driving in the oncoming traffic lane in the direction of Summerstrand . . . [and] collided with the Chevrolet Spark,” Manganya said.

“I would suggest that the BMW had to be in motion moments before the impact due to the massive force applied to the Chevrolet.”

Manayana said damage to the underside of the Spark was consistent with marks on the driving lane of the M4 where tar had been gouged out.

Skid and scuff marks showed that the Spark had applied brakes before the moment of impact but there was little proof of the same for the BMW, she said.

Traumanet advanced life support paramedic Ridhwaan Hassan said their call centre had been called for assistance.

He told magistrate John Montgomery that when he arrived a Netcare private care ambulance was already there.

He went to assist Baartzes but noticed Siyayana and two others on the scene.

After Baartzes was taken away by Netcare, a police officer approached Hassan and said Siyayana was complaining about a sore neck and asked him to check if he had any injuries.

“He did not appear to have any physical injuries . . . I took his medical history and checked his blood pressure, heart rate and sugar levels,” Hassan said. He said he had smelt alcohol. Siyayana was arrested shortly after the accident and was released on R3 000 bail.

The trial was postponed to November 27 and transferred to the Uitenhage Magistrate’s Court.

Leave a Reply