The 22-year-old truck driver, Sithulile Zulu whose vehicle ploughed into at least 45 cars on the M41 in Durban, at the beginning of March, has been granted R 5000 bail in the Durban Magistrate’s Court.
Zulu is facing charges of reckless and negligent driving and failure to comply with the duties of a driver. Zulu’s truck is believed to have veered off the road and overturned a few hundred metres from the crash site.
One person died and over 20 people were injured.
After initially fleeing the scene, Zulu handed himself over to the police later that day.
Magistrate Aida Van Vuuren says the State has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Zulu is indeed a flight risk. This after evidence presented in court proved the validity of Zulu’s driver’s license, his professional driving permit (PDP), and that he has surrendered his passport.
The State was opposed to bail in this matter, saying Zulu is a flight risk and may interfere with the investigation.
Making her submissions in court, state prosecutor Seema Reddy argued that Zulu has not been cooperative in furnishing the details of his employer.
She says the court should also bear in mind that when Zulu fled from the scene, he took a taxi to Richards Bay. The court heard that it was his brother – who is a police officer and then transported him back to the Umhlanga police station to hand himself over.
However, his lawyer, Clinton Short argued that Zulu fled the scene fearing for his life and presented himself to police within 24 hours. Short also told the court that the State was furnished with the names and contact details of Zulu’s employer. He says since the State is still in possession of the truck, it is its duty to investigate to whom it is registered to.
With these submissions, Zulu was granted R 5000 bail. His bail conditions include that he may not contact his employers, who are said to be under investigation by the State. He must also report to the Mtubatuba police station three times a week. His professional driving permit – PDP – will also be suspended pending the finalisation of the case.
His lawyer adds, “He spent unnecessary time in custody, like a schedule 1 offence, had he remained on the scene the State would have still opposed bail. It has taken a bit of time but there is still more interesting aspects to this trial. We have now ordered not to communicate with the employer and I believe that if the state played open cards this whole case would have been handled differently.”
— Nonjabulo Mntungwa (@NjabuloMntungwa) March 31, 2023
Meanwhile, the State says despite Zulu being granted bail, still has a strong case against him.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Natasha Ramkisson-Kara elaborates, “The state has been opposed to bail and we did put the credible argument in court however when it comes to bail the decision is made by the court. The presiding officer makes that final decision and in terms of how the NPA takes that. I would say that we respect the final decision of the court.”
The case has been remanded to June 8th.