Afrikaans pupil Bernadine Kruger, riding on her scooter, was followed across two empty lanes, with high-speed, honking taxi-driver Percyval Matji, 31, hot on her heels, switching from lane to lane to follow her, and according to witnesses, ‘ intent on wanting to force her off the road’ on 23 February 2009…
- Initially Matji was charged with culpible homicide – but the Prosecuting Authority agreed with the formal petitions lodged by her mother and the Freedom Front Plus party ‘s legal team to change this charge to murder -- due to ‘overwhelming and convincing evidence before the court’. On Friday, September 11, 2009, Matji was found guilty of murder and reckless driving by a Pretoria magistrate. Taxi driver guilty of murder
Handing down judgment to Percyval Matji, Magistrate Edmund Patterson said: "It was not a mistake. It was not negligence."On hearing judgment Kruger's mother Elsabe Homan let out a loud "yes".
- Patterson said from the evidence it was determined that Matji deliberately followed Kruger and "wanted her out of his way". He said Matji had made a lethal weapon of his vehicle by driving at speeds far exceeding the limit.”
Message to all reckless drivers…
This is a picture (by Beeld photographer Cornél van Heerden) of the convicted taxi-driver Percyval Matji, 31, at Pretoria Regional Court. He was found guilty of murder and reckless driving in the traffic-death of 15-year-old Afrikaans pupil Bernadine Kruger in Pretoria on 23 February 2009..
The murdered girl’s mother Elsabe Homan, Freedom Front city councillors Dr Conrad Beyers and Advocate Anton Alberts, councillor on the Johannesburg city council, all said they welcomed the decision by the Prosecuting Authority, describing as a watershed-case.
“This sends a message to all reckless drivers that they will have to pay a high price for taking someone’s life, ‘they said in a statement. “This specifically applies to the country’s minitaxi-industry, of which some of its members drive as if they have no responsibility towards anyone else. This decision shows that human life still has some value in our land.’ The Freedom Front Plus will now assist Mrs Homan in lodging civil claims against various people involved in this case. ( for more comment telephone Adv Anton Alberts, tel 083 950 9272.
On February 23, 2009, the Garsfontein High School pupil was enroute to her school with her scooter on a practically empty eastbound dual-carriageway, witnesses testified, when she was run down by the ‘high-speed, aggressively-honking’ taxi-driver, identified as having been Matji. These witnesses were all moving slowly in a tail-back in the crowded west-bound lane of the dual-carriageway at 7am.
After she was hit by Matji’s taxi and was tossed onto the tarmac, he drove over her…
Beeld journalist Herman Scholtz reports that one of the witnesses, Mrs René van Zyl, testified in the Pretoria Regional Court on August 13 2009 that she and her 11-year-old daughter saw ‘Bernadine flying through the air” while slowly moving in the rush-hour traffic. Her daughter watched the event unfold and shouted ‘the taxi doesn’t stop,’ testified Mrs Van Zyl, who said her daughter also screamed: ‘He’s going to hit her, he’s going to hit her..’ as she saw the schoolgirl fly throught the air for several metres, and getting hit by the taxi after she fell on the tarmac.
Other witnesses, Hugo Vermaak and Mrs Sanet Venter, also testified, as did Mrs van Zyl, that the taxi-driver was ‘honking his horn loudly, constantly and aggressively as he was approaching the girl on her schooter from behind at high speed. They all saw the taxi hitting the girl in the adjacent east-bound lane while the three witnesses were moving very slowly, stuck in a traffic jam going in westerly direction. All testified that the east-bound lane was clear, with no other traffic next to the taxi and Bernadine’s scooter going in the same direction.
Picture: Bernadine Kruger, who was murdered by a high-speed taxi-driver while riding to school on her scooter on an near-empty eastbound dual-carriageway in Pretoria on her scooter. Three witnesses testified about the taxi-driver’s aggressive behaviour during this incident. He was found guilty of murder on Sept 11 2009.
The accused driver, Matji, had approached the girl on the scooter at high speed and did not slow down, witnesses said. She tried to move over to the left lane but the taxi then hit her at such high speed that she flew through the air and fell several metres further in the roadway – at which point the same taxi-driver then drove right over the stricken girl. She died on the scene.
One witness driver in the opposite lane, named Vermaak testified that the taxi-driver ‘continued to drive a long distance’ before finally coming to a stop, and driving back to the accident scene.
When asked whether there was any good reason for the taxi-driver to honk his horn so persistently, Vermaak replied that ‘Bernadine was first riding in the left lane with the honking taxi right on her bumper. She then turned on her flashing lights and moved to the right lane but the taxi followed her there, honking hard.’ Vermaak said there were no other commuters on the double-lane roadway near the taxi and the girl on the scooter.
“It just looked as if he wanted to force her off the road altogether,’ said Vermaak. All three eye witnesses testified that Matji could easily have avoided the accident by applying the brakes, i.e. by slowing down -- or by simply moving over to the unoccupied left lane.
During cross-examination by defence advocate Rendani Mufumadi, Matji claiimed that ‘Bernadine had pulled in front of him and that he honked the horn ‘when he realised her timing wasn’t perfect, and that he then ran her down accidentially’. The defence advocate also implied a racial motive, namely that Mr Vermaak, a white man, ‘hated (black) taxi-drivers’.:“I put it to you that you have hidden motives, that’s why you are testifiying…’ However, public prosecutor advocate Sanet van Rensburg’s objection to this accusation was upheld by regional magistrate Edmund Patterson. Bernadine’s mom Mrs Elsabé Homan wept bitterly while listening to the testimony describing her daughter’s last moments on earth, Beeld reported. http://jv.news24.com/Beeld/Suid-Afrika/0,,3-975_2547632,00.html
Scooter awarenessclub launched after rash of deadly taxi-accidents:
The scooter-awareness club, launched after many such incidents, launched a Facebook to draw the public’s attention to this growing problem. Its Facebook page notes that ‘driving in South Africa is becoming more of a dangerous challenge by the day. Taxis doing what ever they want just to squeeze in one more person. SUV's driven by people that care about nothing else than their wallet. Trucks driving 90km/h in a 70km/h zone.”
“Tailgating and overtaking in dangerous places at dangerous speeds... When something goes wrong, the other driver only has a few scratches to worry about on his shiny new SUV, Taxi, BMW. The scooter driver, in some cases, will never worry again... “ Examples cited:
Top swimmer Natalie du Toit became disabled in scooter accident:
The founder, Eugene Maartens, also noted that it was a scooter accident which caused the loss of her left leg of the superb South African swimmer Natalie du Toit – world’famous for her amazing gold medal wins at the 2004 Paralympic Games as well as the ‘able-bodied’ Commonwealth Games. She qualified to compete at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, becoming the first female amputee swimmer ever to qualify for the Olympics, where she placed 16th in a field of 24 in the 10,000m swim.
- In February 2001 her left leg was amputated at the knee after she was hit by a car while riding her scooter back to school after swimming practice.
Also noted was the death of Bernadine Kruger, who died from the criminal actions of taxi-driver Matji.http://www.facebook.com/groups.php#/group.php?gid=53627019214