'Road race' could lead to murder trial for BMW driver
South Africa’s road safety watchdog has called for a motorist to be charged with murder after a street race ended in a gruesome fatal crash at the weekend.
The BMW M4 with four occupants was torn to pieces when it hit a tree at high speed on Houtkop Road in Vereeniging‚ Gauteng.
Video footage‚ purportedly taken shortly before the crash and shared on social media‚ showed two passengers in the powerful German vehicle – one of whom was holding a drink – urging the driver to speed.
The passengers‚ not wearing seat belts‚ praised the car’s performance and the fact that it had “four pipes” – referring to the car’s four exhaust pipes – as it followed a white vehicle at speed.
Two of the passengers were killed and a third seriously injured. The driver was unharmed.
Pictures of the crash scene showed that the back of the vehicle had been torn off.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) wants prosecutors to charge the driver with murder.
RTMC spokesman Simon Zwane said in a statement: “It is alleged the vehicle‚ a BMW M4‚ was involved in a road race with another vehicle before the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree.
“The driver was arrested at the scene and appeared in court on Monday on charges relating to driving under the influence and culpable homicide.”
RTMC CEO Makhosini Msibi said the crash “demonstrates vividly how young people fail to take responsibility for their own safety and other motorists once they get behind their high speed vehicles.”
“Every weekend parents bury their loved ones who die because of deliberate‚ unacceptable and irresponsible conduct of drivers who disregard the rules of the road. This has got to stop.”
Msibi said that blood samples had been taken from the driver for analysis.
“We call on the National Prosecuting Authority to upgrade the charges from culpable homicide to murder if it should be established that the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol or other substance at the time the accident occurred‚” added Msibi.
In May this year a driver was charged with murder after allegedly causing a crash that killed four children.
Lazarus Malatjie‚ 42‚ was charged with culpable homicide in September 2017‚ but the NPA decided to change the charge to murder after his blood alcohol tests came back positive.
At the time‚ the RTMC welcomed the murder charge‚ with Msibi saying the prosecution of traffic offenders should be tough in order to deter errant drivers and improve compliance with the rules of the road.