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Scholar transport horror smash driver to seek bail as grief and anger envelop Cape Town community

Scholar transport horror smash driver to seek bail as grief and anger envelop Cape Town community
Mninikhaya Mvuli appeared at the Mitchells Plain court on five charges of culpable homicide. (Photo: Supplied)

The man behind the wheel of the vehicle that killed five children in Mitchells Plain made his first brief appearance in court on Thursday. 

Mninikhaya Mvuli, the driver who lost control of his light motor vehicle and killed five children and injured two, briefly appeared at the Mitchells Plain Magistrate Court on Thursday. 

The 56-year-old is facing five culpable homicide and reckless driving charges following the horror crash that shook the city of Cape Town and left communities in mourning. 

The kids lost their lives when the vehicle crashed on AZ Berman Road, Mitchells Plain opposite one of the area’s biggest shopping centres, the Promenade Mall. Across the street, is AZ Berman Primary School. The children were being transported to school at the time. The five children that died were at the back of the vehicle while the two that are currently receiving treatment at the hospital were seated in front. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Unimaginable tragedy’ as five pre-teen learners killed in horror smash in Cape Town

Mninikhaya Mvuli

A protester with posters during Mninikhaya Mvuli’s appearance at the Mitchells plain magistrate court on five charges of culpable homicide. (Photo: Supplied)

On Wednesday, before the municipal council began its business, Speaker Felicity Purchase asked that the councillors bow their hands and give a moment of silence to the deceased children and their grieving families. 

A handful of people were picketing outside the court with placards asking that the accused be denied bail. 

Back in court, parents and community members filled the court and cries were heard as soon as Mvuli made his way to the dock. 

Mitchells Plain horror crash driver Mninikhaya Mvuli

Mninikhaya Mvuli appeared at the Mitchells plain magistrate court on five charges of culpable homicide. (Photo: Supplied)

Dressed in a long coat, and grey pants with a surgical mask covering half of his face, Mvuli first wanted to have a private legal representative but asked to first meet with his family that was present in court to discuss this. The magistrate said this would take time from the court and suggested that he take up free legal representation offered by Legal Aid South Africa. He agreed. 

The state made it clear that it would oppose bail after the accused indicated that he will apply for bail. It also emerged that Mvuli had a rape conviction in 1992 but had no outstanding cases. No further details were made available.

The case was postponed to next week Monday for a formal bail application. 

Phumeza Mvuli, the niece of the accused, said the family had also lost a child during the crash. “It is painful,” she said. “We do not know what to say. We are really sorry for what happened. My uncle is a pastor and a well-respected person in the community. We are asking for people not to judge him. We are sorry to the parents that lost their children.”

Lizy Meke, a scholar transport driver who operates in the same area, said she has been transporting school children since 2010 and this is the first tragic incident. 

“We do not know the accused, and we are told he does not drink nor smoke. We feel the pain of both the accused and the families that lost their children. As scholar drivers, we will make contributions to the families.” 

Meke said it is difficult for them to get permits from the Western Cape Government to transport children. “We know that the vehicle involved in the incident was never going to get a permit because it is not a suitable vehicle to transport children. But us with the required vehicles struggle to get permits and our vehicles get impounded and the release fee is R10,000.” 

Western Cape Mobility MEC Ricardo Mackenzie said he was holding meetings with different scholar transport forums to establish the challenges faced when applying for permits. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Nick Miller says:

    This explains nothing about the incident or why the accused has been charged. A bit of back ground would not go amiss.
    Repeating statements made by various interested parties does not constitute reporting.

    • Peter Geddes says:

      It would be interesting to dig into the driver error or poor practice that caused the crash. Then we could open the can of worms around appalling driver skills, false licenses and non-existent policing of driver behaviour.

      Proper driver training would be so easy with simulators using AI.

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