In 2011, Joseph Motsamai Semitjie was employed as a driver for Humphrey Mmemezi. At the time, Mmemezi was the Gauteng Local Government and Housing MEC. With Semitji behind the wheel, the MEC’s vehicle is said to have sped through a red traffic light and hit a motorcycle. Matric pupil Thomas Ferreira was riding the bike.
On Wednesday, media reports quoted Semitjie’s lawyer Moses Rankoa when he represented his client at the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court. The defense is convinced that Ferreira has only himself to blame for the accident and resultant injuries. Rankoa sees things this way: “The BMW was hit by the young man’s motorcycle. It shows he either did not have the necessary skills or documentation to be on the road.”
He went on to say that as far as the defense is concerned, Ferreira is the one who should be prosecuted for the accident. State vehicles acquire special privileges which must be respected by other road users when the blue lights are switched on and the siren is wailing. Rankoa believes that Ferreira created the circumstances which led to the accident when he did not adhere to this.
This information was brought before Magistrate A. K. Khan during the application for the charges against Semitjie to be withdrawn. Semitjie is charged with reckless and negligent driving and failure to provide assistance to the injured at the scene of an accident. He is also charged with malicious damage to property and inflicting injuries. Magistrate A. K. Khan rejected the application and the charges against Semitjie still stand.
Testifying for the prosecution, an official from the traffic department denied any implications that Ferreira was at fault in the accident. The official confirmed that the accident had been reconstructed and the result of the reconstruction showed that Ferreira did not cause the accident.
Earlier this week, the court heard about the devastating extent of the injuries suffered by Thomas Ferreira. Neurosurgeon Izak Bezuidenhout elaborated on the tests which have been performed on Ferreira to determine the severity of his head injury. The Glasgow Coma Scale is instrumental in measuring the levels of consciousness after a head injury which lands a patient in a coma. Ferreira scored a low seven out of fifteen. He would have been declared brain dead if his assessments had produced a score of three or lower. Bezuidenhout said: “If a patient with a severe head injury has a score under eight on the Glasgow Coma Scale, we expect to see significant permanent brain damage.”
The case continues at the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court.