Last week (Thursday, 10 September 2009) Percyval Matji was found guilty of the murder of Bernadine Kruger. Today, a week later he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
For those who don’t know what this is about, Percyval Matji had driven into the back of Bernadine’s scooter while she was on her way to school in Garsfontein. When she fell the taxi drove over her and she was killed.
This case has been plagued with accusations of incompetence as the police on the scene let Matji leave without taking him into custody. Fortunately nothing came of the slip up and Matji was arrested when the murder charges were brought against him. Of course, then the judge posted a R1000 bail on the condition that Matji disclosed the full details of his other address in Mpumalanga and reported to the police station every day. Patterson increased the bail to R5000 when the prosecution protested that the convicted murderer needed to be placed in custody.
Finally, in what is probably the fastest conviction I’ve seen, Matji was convicted of murder and sentenced to 12 years in prison. When Magistrate Edmund Patterson handed down judgment he was quoted as saying, “It was not a mistake. It was not negligence.” In context he was saying that Matji’s actions were deliberate – an obvious pre-requisite for a murder conviction. On top of the prison sentence Matji was declared unfit to own a firearm and his license and permit to drive were revoked.
No justice, no sentence will bring Bernadine back, but I for one hope that this ruling sends out a strong message to taxi drivers everywhere.
You can’t endanger the lives of other road users or the lives of your passengers and get away with it.
With the introduction of competing services in Johannesburg like BRT you no longer hold a monopoly over affordable transportation. You now have to treat your customers like customers and not cattle if you want to keep them.
If you endanger the lives of the people that share the road with you there will be hell to pay. If you continue to treat your customers like dirt, or endanger their lives then you will be minus your livelihood.