Trial of taxi driver involved in Burry Stander accident, resumes today

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By Johan Pretorius

The trial of the driver of the taxi involved in the accident in which Olympian mountain biker Burry Stander was killed, resumes in the Port Shepstone magistrate’s court today.  The big question is whether the accused, Najbulo Nyawose, has been able to secure money to pay his legal counsel since last Thursday.  When  the trial resumed on that day after a break of two months, Nyawose’s legal counsel asked for a postponement of two months to enable his client to secure funds to pay for his defence.  Otherwise, attorney Xolile Ntshulana said, he would have to withdraw from the case.

Magistrate Charmaine Barnard was not pleased with this request at all, and said this placed the court in a ‘Catch 22′ situation.  If she denied the request, the case would be delayed again for a considerable period, because the new defence counsel would need time to avail itself of the facts of the case.  If she granted the request, there would be a delay of two months anyway.

Magistrate Barnard suggested that the Legal Aid Board be approached for help to pay for the current legal counsel.  Whether that has been successful, will be known today.

PREVIOUS REPORT:

When the trial of the driver of the taxi involved in the Burry Stander accident resumed in the Port Shepstone Magistrates’ court on Thursday, his defence counsel applied for it to be postponed again.  Attorney Xolile Ntshulana told Magistrate Charmaine Barnard taxi driver Njabulo Nyawose asked for the postponement because he needed time to secure funds to pay for his defence, and they were requesting a period of two months.

Magistrate Barnard made it clear that she was not pleased with this request, because the case had been dragging on for a considerable time. It was necessary, in the interests of all the parties involved, that closure in the matter be achieved as soon as possible. ‘Unfortunately,’ she said, ‘the court now finds itself in a Catch 22 situation. If it grants a postponement for the accused to find money, or for an application for legal aid, more time will be lost.   If it does not, the defendant’s council will withdraw from the case, and the matter would have to be postponed anyway until a new legal counsel could be secured. In addition, all the previous evidence would have to be printed for the perusal of the new attorney, and even more time will be lost.’

Magistrate Barnard suggested that the matter be postponed to Monday 24 November, and that an application be lodged with the Legal Aid Board for the accused’s defence cost to be covered.  The possibility was there that the board could pay his current legal counsel to remain involved in the case. ‘Who knows, we might just be fortunate’, she said, ‘and we will know on Monday.’  She said an extra two days would also be requested for the trial next week, on the assumption that the trial could be resumed on Monday.

Stander’s mother, Mandy, who was in court, was devastated when she took note of the application for another postponement.  She said the country’s legal system was letting Burry’s family down because of the drawn out process to get closure.   She pointed out that the accident happened 22 months ago, and the trial was still far from over.

Stander, an Olympian mountain biker, was killed on 3 January 2013 when he collided with a minibus taxi in Marine Drive, Shelly Beach.

PREVIOUS REPORT ON 20 SEPTEMBER:

During the trial of taxi driver Njabulo Nyawose in the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, magistrate Charmaine Barnard turned down a request from attorney Xolile Ntshulana that his client be acquitted.

This followed a list of reasons mentioned by Ntshulana why the accident that killed Stander in Marine Drive, Shelly Beach, was not his client’s fault.

He stated the main question before the court was: which one of the two protagonists caused the accident?

His client could not avoid it because of the high speed at which Stander was approaching the intersection where it happened.

He maintained Stander was travelling much faster that the Garmin device fitted to his bike had indicated.

In addition, Nyawose’s view had been obscured by a white Audi approaching from the same direction as Stander, and when he turned after the car had passed, Stander hit his taxi. Prosecutor Christelle Rossouw disputed this.

The State maintains the information obtained from the navigational device showed that Stander was not travelling at an excessive speed.

The blame lies with Nyawose, the State maintains, because after moving down the right of a stationary row of vehicles, the taxi driver turned into the intersection, crossing a solid white line into the oncoming Stander’s path.

Earlier in the trial, a Garmin tracking device expert testified there was no doubt in his mind that both Stander and Nyawose could see each other over a considerable distance before the accident occurred, and that Stander never exceeded 44 kph.

Shortly before the trial was postponed until 20 November, the defence called a witness the State originally had on its list but did not call, Mr. Reggie Govender.

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