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Unlicensed killer driver ordered to pay $16 000 to victim’s family

By Mashudu Netsianda

The High Court has ordered a woman from Gwanda who fatally knocked down a nine-year-old boy to pay the deceased’s parents more than $16 000 as compensation for their loss and funeral expenses incurred.

Ms Sithandazile Mpofu (31), who is a nurse at Gwanda Provincial Hospital and does not have a driver’s licence, was travelling with her husband Mr Melusi Sibanda (31) along the Bulawayo-Gwanda road when she lost control of the car.

It then veered off the road before fatally hitting Thabo Ncube who was sitting on the edge of the highway.

The boy’s mother, Mrs Precious Ncube and her daughter, Nombulelo were also injured in the accident which occurred on September 8 in 2012 at the 97km peg.

Sibanda tried to cover up for his unlicensed wife by telling traffic cops that he was the driver of the car.

The trio was rushed to Gwanda Provincial Hospital where Thabo later succumbed to the injuries.

In papers before the court, Mr Kenneth Ncube who is the deceased’s father, Mrs Ncube and their daughter Nombulelo are the plaintiffs while Mpofu and her husband were cited as defendants.

Bulawayo High Court Justice Nokuthula Moyo ordered Mpofu and Sibanda to pay the plaintiffs $16 525 being general damages for pain and suffering as a result of the loss of Thabo and bodily harm, medical and funeral expenses incurred.

The judge also ordered the defendants to pay the legal costs incurred by the plaintiffs.

In her judgment, Justice Moyo concluded that Mpofu was speeding and grossly negligent in causing the accident.

“The accident was solely caused by the negligence of Mpofu who did not only drive negligently but also had no driver’s licence,” said the judge.

In their summons, the plaintiffs claimed damages in the sum of $25 000, but the judge reduced the amount to $16 525.

Justice Moyo said the family suffered traumatic stress disorder and was emotionally drained following the death of Thabo.

“I hold the view that this family has indeed suffered and has been traumatised emotionally by Thabo’s death. The plaintiffs took us through a saddening and emotional explanation of how the loss of Thabo has caused emptiness and a permanent void in their lives. They are indeed struggling to come to terms with his death which is still haunting them,” she said.

The defendants, through their lawyers TJ Mabhikwa and Partners, challenged the claims by the plaintiffs, saying they wanted documentary proof to sustain them.

The court heard that on September 8, 2012 at around 3.30PM, Sibanda unlawfully permitted Mpofu to drive their car. The couple was coming from Gwanda and heading towards Bulawayo. As she tried to get into a road leading to Mtshabezi Mission School, Mpofu lost control of the car and it went off the road and hit Thabo, his sister and mother.

When police arrived at the scene, Sibanda lied that he was the one who was driving the car in a bid to cover up for his unlicensed wife.

Investigations by police revealed that it was Mpofu who was driving the car leading to her arrest. She was slapped with a six months imprisonment term for culpable homicide and fined $200 or 30 days for driving without a licence. The Chronicle