In yesterday’s NewsDay, there was a heartrending story about a police officer — unlicensed to drive — who allegedly facilitated the illegal importation of a vehicle, drove it in Beitbridge and killed two people in the process.
Comment: NewsDay Editor
For all this, the police officer got away with a $500 fine, nothing more than a slap on the wrist that can only be described as a travesty of justice.
He was found guilty and convicted for culpable homicide because he did not intend to kill his two victims, but the fact that he drove without a licence should have been an aggravating circumstance and should have seen the officer spending time behind bars.
It does not help that he committed the crime when he was illegally facilitating the importation of a vehicle, for which he has only been suspended from work.
In essence, the police officer committed three crimes, including killing two people and got away with a $500 fine, this cannot be justice and there is need for legislators to relook at this law.
Being involved in a car crash is an accident and we understand this happens, but the gravity and severity of the offence increases when one is driving without a licence and there is need for the country’s courts to be punitive.
This is further aggravated by that the person who was convicted in this case is a police officer, sworn to protect and observe the law, yet two people have lost their lives because of his unlawful behaviour.
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While magistrates work within the confines of the law, surely there is a case to be made that this police officer deserved a harsher sentence rather than this lenient one.
We are reminded of the case of musician, Dudu Manhenga, who was initially jailed for 18 months for knocking down and killing a pedestrian when she drove with only a learner’s licence.
She was also fined $300 for driving unsupervised, although the sentence was later quashed and she remained with a $1 000 fine, which still remains harsher than the police officer’s even when he killed two people.
The sanctity of life should be preserved at all costs and such crimes should be punished harshly.
Too many lives are lost needlessly on the country’s roads and this will not be helped by courts being lenient on unlicensed drivers who go on to cause accidents.
We hope that when this police officer’s case goes to the High Court for review, the judge looking at it will propose a stiffer penalty and set aside the magistrate’s ruling.
This is the only way the country can curb unnecessary accidents on its roads.