Driver guilty of murder gets court date in August

Jandre Dippenaar

A persentence hearing in the trial of Jandre Dippenaar, who has been convicted on six counts of murder in connection with a road collision near the end of 2014, is scheduled to take place in the Swakopmund Regional Court on 20 August.

Magistrate Gaynor Poulton postponed the presentence hearing in Dippenaar’s trial yesterday, after she was informed that he wants to instruct a legal counsel to represent him during the hearing of evidence and oral arguments before he is due to be sentenced.

Poulton found Dippenaar guilty on six counts of murder, a charge of reckless driving and a count of driving a motor vehicle without a driving licence on Thursday last week.

With that verdict, Dippenaar became the first person in Namibia that has been found guilty of murder, rather than culpable homicide, in connection with a road accident found to have been caused by him.

Dippenaar was the driver of a vehicle that was involved in a horror crash in which six people were killed near Henties Bay on 29 December 2014.

Three people in the vehicle driven by Dippenaar – Dinah Pretorius, Charlene Schoombee and JC Horn – lost their lives in the collision.

Three members of a German family that was visiting Namibia – Markus and Stephanie Joschko and their daughter Alexandra – were also killed when a pickup in which they were travelling collided head-on with the car driven by Dippenaar.

The youngest member of the German family, Antonia Joschko and Dippenaar were the only survivors of the collision.

Dippenaar was prosecuted on six counts of murder and also other charges during a drawn-out trial in the Swakopmund Regional Court.

During the trial, he told the court he could not remember the fatal collision. However, Dippenaar added that he did not believe he would have overtaken other vehicles on a blind rise on the road between Swakopmund and Henties Bay where he would not have been able to see oncoming traffic.

In the judgement, Poulton found that Dippenaar drove recklessly on the road between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund when he overtook cars at high speed in the face of oncoming traffic and where no overtaking was allowed about an hour before the fatal crash.

A traffic officer at Swakopmund gave Dippenaar a warning about his driving, after a complaint had been relayed to a neighbourhood watch group.

Poulton found that the fatal collision took place when the vehicle driven by Dippenaar went over a blind rise at high speed and on the side of the road meant for oncoming traffic.

Dippenaar, who is an experienced rally driver, must have foreseen that his dangerous actions when he drove over the blind rise could have deadly consequences, but reconciled himself with those consequences, Poulton reasoned before she found him guilty on six counts of murder, committed without a direct intention to kill.

Dippenaar’s main aim when he carried out a risky and dangerous manoeuvre was not to cause a collision, but to overtake several vehicles at once, the magistrate said in her judgement.

Dippenaar consciously and deliberately took risks, while foreseeing there was a real possibility that a deadly accident could occur, Poulton also reasoned.

Dippenaar, who is being held in custody since the delivery of the verdict, has been represented by veteran defence counsel Louis Botes, instructed by Petrie Theron, during the trial. Botes died last month.

The prosecution was represented by state advocate Ethel Ndlovu and Faith Nyaungwa.

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