The mother of Elsie Watkins (42) sobbed out loudly in court as the man accused of driving over her daughter and killing her was found guilty of culpable homicide in the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court, on Friday, last week.
This judgement brings some closure for the family who had a long battle getting the case to trial. The trial only commenced in the middle of last year.
This judgement means the two alternative charges Musi Walter Manaka (34), of Germiston, faced – reckless and negligent driving and inconsiderate driving – were not ruled on and the second charge he faced, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the magistrate said could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Manaka was released on an extension of his previous warning release, and the case was postponed to March 22 for pre-sentencing reports to be compiled.
In the early hours of May 14, 2016, on the corner of North Rand and Pretoria roads, Manaka lost control of his vehicle hitting Watkins and killing her as she stood on the grass verge outside her house with her dad, John Watkins, taking photos on her cellphone of a bakkie which had, minutes before, crashed through their garden wall.
The driver of the bakkie, who fled the scene, was one of the state’s seven witnesses. He testified it had been raining and the slippery road surface made him lose control of his vehicle.
Manaka also presented this defence, saying he lost control of the car due to the weather, that he had been driving within the 60kmp/h speed limit and was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He denied ever seeing Watkins standing on the side of the road taking photos and said: “my car hit nobody”.
A tow truck driver, who was driving in front of Manaka just before he lost control of his Hyundai i20 and hit Watkins, testified he had seen, despite the rainy weather, a “lady in pink pyjamas taking photos”.
In a shocking assumption, Manaka even told the court it could have been the driver of the bakkie who crashed into the wall which had killed Watkins (“that is why he left the scene”). Watkins was, of course, alive after the bakkie crashed through the wall and taking photographs of it.
The magistrate said the court found the state’s witnesses’ accounts were consistent with evidence produced and that there was no disputing that Manaka’s car was the only vehicle which was in motion at the time of the accident.
When Manaka left the road, he first hit some wooden poles on the side of the road, then Watkins, then a security vehicle and then the wall of the Watkins’ property.
While witnesses, including John Watkins, testified they smelt alcohol on Manaka, that he appeared confused and had attempted to walk off the scene after the crash, the state could not prove conclusively that this was the case, despite a breath alcohol test showing a reading of 0.31mg (the legal limit is 0.24mg).