Alleged drunk driver, Joseph Hebron Maponya, made his first appearance in the Middelburg Magistrates Court today, more than 18 months after he allegedly caused the car crash that killed five-year-old Amé Jansen van Rensburg. Maponya faces charges of culpable homicide, reckless and negligent driving as well as driving under the influence of alcohol.
Amé’s mother, Nadia Jansen van Rensburg, approached AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit in October 2021 – a month after the car crash on 26 September that claimed the life of her daughter and left her with a broken arm.
On that fateful day, Jansen van Rensburg, her husband Phillip, her son Flippie and Amé were driving along the R555 en route to Middelburg. Both children were strapped into their car seats. It is alleged that Maponya, in a red vehicle, crossed over the barrier line and into oncoming traffic.
To avoid a head-on collision, Phillip swerved out of the way, but their bakkie rolled. Tragically, Amé sustained a fatal wound to her head.
It is alleged that Maponya fled the scene of the accident, but was followed, apprehended and brought back to the scene by an eyewitness where he was handed over to the police. It is alleged that Maponya was visibly intoxicated.
When the unit intervened, the matter was delayed because of outstanding blood alcohol results, even though eyewitnesses reported having seen Maponya in a visibly intoxicated state.
In August 2022, Adv. Gerrie Nel, head of the Private Prosecuting Unit, wrote the following in a letter to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA):
“Mr Maponya was allegedly drunk and there can be no justification for not proceeding with the prosecution on Drunken Driving by relying on the evidence of the witnesses on the scene. It is nonsensical that the matter will not be enrolled because of outstanding blood results that might take years to be obtained if circumstantial evidence is available to be presented by the NPA. By merely consulting with the witnesses, this can be established and confirmed.”
The unit continued applying pressure on the NPA until the matter was finally enrolled.
Nadia was overcome with emotion when she came face-to-face with Maponya.
“For a year and seven months, the name Joseph Maponya was just a name that only meant sadness and grief to us. But today I could put a face to that name. It hurts my heart bitterly that it had to take so long to get to this point. Now all the plasters on our hearts have been ripped off and the raw hurt is exposed once again.”
Nadia has thanked AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit for their support so far. “It’s not fair that we must go through this, but if it means that justice can be done and protect families from similar grief, then we will do it. With the strength we get from our Heavenly Father we will get through this,” said Nadia.
The case was postponed to 19 May, a day before little Amé would have turned seven.
“Instead of me standing in the kitchen on 19 May baking a cake for my daughter’s seventh birthday, which would have been on the twentieth, I’ll be sitting in court,” said Nadia.
Barry Bateman, spokesperson for the Private Prosecution Unit, said it should never have taken this long to enroll the matter.
“The legal maxim, justice delayed is justice denied is true for this case. There was ample evidence available to prosecutors to ensure the matter was prosecuted without delay. We are however thankful that the case can finally get underway and the Jansen van Rensburg family can take steps towards justice.”