Published on 20/10/2015
Mbombela - A bus driver convicted on four counts of murder and 62 counts of attempted murder after the bus he was driving collided with a train in Mpumalanga five years ago has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Goodman Ngomane, 49, from Mahushu near Hazyview, was sentenced when he appeared in the Circuit Local Division of the Eastern Circuit District Court in Mbombela on Wednesday.
The bus, which was ferrying pupils and teachers from Khokhoba Primary School in Islington Trust near Bushbuckridge, collided with a train outside Thulamahashe on July 31 2010. Ngomane and the passengers were returning from a school trip to Pretoria.
Judge Nomsa Khumalo sentenced Ngomane to five years imprisonment, of which two years were suspended for five years. She also suspended his driver's licence for 12 months.
Khumalo said the accused told the court that his job and family were at stake. "The families who lost members have also not found closure," Khumalo said.
Did not admit to all the facts
Ngomane's defence, Coert Jordaan, said he had been instructed to apply for an appeal against the sentence. But Khumalo rejected the appeal, saying another court was unlikely to reach a different conclusion.
The judge said during his plea the accused had not admitted to all the facts.
"He said when he approached the railway line, he noticed a stop sign on the right, stopped, looked right and left. He realised it was safe to cross.
"This is in contrast to what was submitted. Two witnesses, a Grade 4 teacher and Sydney Mathebula, who were in the front of the bus, did not say the accused stopped. The court gave sentence based on public safety," Khumalo said.
Jordaan said they would like to take their application to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
"The accused did not intentionally commit the crime, it was negligence. I believe another court would reach a different conclusion," Jordaan said.
Khumalo advised Jordaan to submit the application in writing.