The Pretoria Regional Court has on 21 July 2022 sentenced Andrew Kagiso Malele to eight years in prison for culpable homicide for causing the deaths of a young couple. He was also sentenced to three years imprisonment for drunk driving. The sentences are to run concurrently.
The court further cancelled Malele’s driver’s licence. AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit welcomes the sentence because it sends a strong message to would-be drunk drivers, and that grossly negligent behaviour on the country’s roads will not be tolerated.
Malele pleaded guilty to culpable homicide in May – a development made possible after the Private Prosecution Unit’s involvement, because the docket had, according to the state, gone missing.
On 23 December 2017 Malele crashed his car into another, which led to the deaths of Ruan Coen (26) and Jessika Kennedy (25).
The couple had got engaged just three weeks earlier. They were returning to Pretoria from White River along the N4. Malele was driving in the opposite direction, lost control of his vehicle and crashed into their car. Both were killed outright. Malele sustained only minor injuries and, according to eyewitnesses, he joked with police members who were at the scene.
Ruan’s mother, Ursula Kors, approached AfriForum after she established that the docket had gone missing from the Silverton police station. AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit worked closely with Col. Werner Everson from the Silverton detective branch and Sgt. Piet Ferreira from the Sinoville detective branch to recompile the docket so that the accused can be prosecuted.
When the case was eventually assigned to a prosecutor, Adv. Hilke Meyer ensured the matter received the attention it deserved. The communication between the prosecutor, AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit and the victims were refreshed, and should in fact be the norm.
Malele’s defense counsel asked the court to impose a sentence of correctional supervision, while the state proposed imprisonment of five years. In handing down judgment, Magistrate Kallie Bosch rejected both proposals as inappropriate. “(This court) must understand that the sentence this court imposes won’t bring back the lives of the two deceased. That is something you will have to live with. You are solely responsible for the deaths of those two young people. You stand before this court with blood on your hands.”
“The court looked at the victim impact reports. It is quite clear this was very traumatic for the deceased’s family. The court has a duty to send a message that persons who commit such crimes, like drinking and driving under the influence, must be severely punished,” said Bosch.
Adv. Gerrie Nel, head of AfriForum Private Prosecution Unit, says the unit is satisfied that there is finality in this matter five years after the young couple were killed. “The case would never have been enrolled in court if it was not for the involvement of the Private Prosecution Unit. This is yet another example of the failure of the criminal justice system. Most concerning is that the docket had gone missing. This is simply unacceptable, but it is something the unit is seeing far too often in cases where it appears the accused person is being shielded from prosecution. The affected families now have some sense of closure and can focus on moving forward.”
In the victim impact statement submitted to court, Rynet Kennedy, Jessika’s mother, says she and her son have been profoundly affected by her death. “Through everything I do, nothing helps. I sleep a lot and at times I battle to sleep.”
Kennedy described her daughter as an absolute caregiver of people and animals. “She loved painting, and we did a lot of gardening and cooking together. She was involved in activities against crime against women and children.”
“We expected a lesser sentence, so we are more than grateful for the sentence which was eventually handed down. We are grateful that the justice system is taking these types of cases more seriously than before,” said Kors outside court.
“When people thought we had given up, there were people who gave us hope. People who went out of their way to make sure that the docket was recompiled, under difficult circumstances. We are grateful for every person involved that after five years brought this case before the court,” said Kors about the involvement of the Private Prosecution Unit.
Read the original article in Afrikaans on AfriForum