TAXI DRIVER SLAPPED WITH R23 000 FINE FOR DRUNK DRIVING

CAPE TOWN – A taxi owner-driver was fined a total of R23 000 or 27 months jail on Thursday, for drunken driving and trying to bribe two traffic officials who had arrested him.

His driver’s license was also suspended for eight months.

Thanduxele Sotsopo, 46, a married father, pleaded guilty to both charges, when he appeared in the Goodwood Regional Court.

The incident happened late at night, after Sotsopo had shared a bottle of whisky with other owner-drivers, at a braai.

He had also consumed two bottles of cider in addition to the whisky, and was heavily under the influence when the incident happened, as pointed out by his lawyer, advocate Thembela Mbebe.

His blood-alcohol level was 0,24 percent.

The incident, in Monte Vista Boulevard in Cape Town’s northern suburbs, involved traffic officers Craig Schietekat and Edwin Hull.

He appeared before magistrate Constance Nziweni, who said driving, especially whilst one’s driving skills were alcohol-impaired, “could never be taken lightly”.

She told Sotsopo: “Alcohol-related driving offences are out of control in this country, causing carnage on the roads and the maiming of innocent road users.

“Despite the heavy sentences imposed by the courts, the carnage continues.”

She said drunk driving was sufficiently serious to justify prison sentences, without the option of a fine.

“People like you show scant regard for the rights of others.”

She said stiff sentences were required as a message to those inclined to drink and drive, that the community has had enough of the scourge, and that the courts would deal with it severely.

She said the fine imposed on Sotsopo had to reflect society’s deep abhorrence for both offences. She said Sotsopo was in fact a repeat-offender, and had been fined for drunken driving nine years ago.

As a taxi driver with a public driving permit, he should have known better than to take to the road in his condition. The heavy fine had to reflect the gravity of both offences, as urged by prosecutor Barry van der Berg, she said.

It also had to satisfy the interests of the community. Sotsopo was not permitted to pay the fine in installments, as requested by his lawyer.

Africa News Agency