Simba Mhere case: Findings that accused drove reckless are insufficient, says lawyer

Johannesburg – The lawyer representing the man involved in an accident that claimed the lives of Top Billing presenter Simba Mhere and his friend Kady-Shay O'Bryan has rubbished testimonies that his client was driving at high speed when he collided with them.

"Even if the court can find that Naidoo exceeded the limit and lost control, the finding that he had driven the vehicle recklessly was insufficient," Preshalin Naidoo's lawyer Advocate François Roets argued on Monday. 

Roets argued, with an almost empty Randburg Magistrate's Court gallery, that the bulk of evidence presented by the State could not sustain a conviction on any of the charges that Naidoo faced.

Mhere's vehicle collided with Naidoo's car on William Nicol Drive in Fourways, Johannesburg, in January 2015.

Mhere's father Joseph, who was also in the car, survived the crash.

'Guilt beyond reasonable doubt'

"The State should prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt," Roets added.

Twenty-four-year-old Naidoo appeared calm during proceedings.

Eye witnesses alleged that Naidoo told them he could not control his vehicle and that he fell asleep.

During his heads of argument on Monday afternoon, Prosecutor Dinesh Nandkissor told the court that the accident resulted because of high speed and not mechanical problems.

Nandkissor read out evidence from each witness.

He said Mhere's father had testified that he could not estimate the speed at which they were travelling prior to the collision.

He said his son was slowing down because the traffic light was red but he heard a loud noise.

His son and O'Bryan appeared motionless, Nandkissor said.

'What is this guy doing'

Nandkissor also said one of the eye witnesses, Mamokete Laka, testified that she was asleep at the time and was awakened by her brother who said, 'what is this guy doing' referring to Naidoo and then she heard a noise.

Nandikssor said despite the "overwhelming" testimonies, the accused still chose not to testify.

"It is he who could refute the claims. The court can conclude that the evidence is sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused," Nandkissor said.

"He [Naidoo] chose to remain silent and left it in the hands of [IBF Investigations South Africa chief reconstruction expert Stanley] Bezuidenhout to challenge the State," he said.

Bezuidenhout had previously testified that the accident that led to Mhere's death was caused by mechanical problems and not speed.

Naidoo faces two counts of culpable homicide and additional charges of reckless or negligent driving.

Nandkissor said he relied on Bezuidenhout to tell his side of the story.

Blaming mechanical defects

In Naidoo's plea explanation, he stated that he lost control of his vehicle due to "unexpected mechanical defects".

Bezuidenhout testified that Naidoo's car was travelling at approximately 60km/h at the time of impact.

While Mhere's car was travelling at approximately 98km/h.

However, earlier in the trial, Car Track fleet manager Lorenz Stoger testified that Naidoo's car was travelling at approximately 166km/h when he off-ramped at William Nicol Drive and crashed into Mhere's car.

Bezuidenhout said they had a problem with the tracker report and that it's estimate could have been off by 80%.

"The probability of the cause of the accident lies much more with the mechanical default than speed," Bezuidenhout said at the time.

The matter was postponed to January 31 for judgment.