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Matsha tragedy trial set for July

WRECKED: the truck INSET: Thoomadi

The trial of a truck driver in the infamous 2015 Matsha College tragedy has been slated for July when he will appear before court facing nine counts of causing death by reckless driving.

Dogi Thoomadi, the 43-year-old driver at Letlhakeng District Council appeared briefly before a Molepolole Magistrates court this week for confirmation of trial dates that will commence on July 23rd.

The case will further be heard on July 24th, August 5th to the 7th with the State looking to call about 17 witnesses.

Thoomadi’s attorney, Temperance Ketshabile, had earlier told the court that they had not yet decided on the number of witnesses to call but said they intend calling some of the surviving passengers.

“I have not yet seen the summary of the case. I went through the 50 witnesses’ statements recorded by the state, not knowing how many they will call,” explained Ketshabile.

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The summary of the case states that the truck was overloaded with 126 passengers with their luggage each instead of its carrying capacity of 56 passengers.

“The driver drove the said vehicle knowing well that it was dangerously overloaded. He also knew that the rear left tyre had overheated and was likely to burst any time. He applied brakes after the tyre burst knowing it to be dangerous to do so,” reads the summary in part.

According to one of the witnesses, due to the severity of his injuries he did not remember what happened.

He only remembers being at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Princess Marina Hospital until December 4th, 2015 and the doctors have told him that memories will come back little or bit by bit.

Some students allegedly said the truck was over speeding while others said it was moving slowly.

Particulars of offence are that on November 13th, 2015 at Dutlwe along Morwamosu- Letlhakeng road in Kweneng District the accused recklessly drove a Hino truck registered B577 AOI and thereby causing the deaths of Olebogeng Ngakaagae, Joyce Tsogwane, Sekhuto Mmualebe, Olebile Mosielele,Irene Molebeledi, Barati Phetolo, Neo Kealotswe, Lydia Gakelebone and Oreeditse Kebopelwang.

The fatal incident occurred when the students were returning home after their Form 5 examinations at Matsha College in Kang.
Five of the students died on the spot while majority were admitted at the hospital with severe injuries as later on four also passed on.

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The truck had damages of deep dents at the front, dents on the body’s rails, missing windows together with windscreen and shattered rear tyre.

It is alleged that the truck had been scheduled to transport some of the students but when it arrived at the school, the students- even those who were excluded, forced themselves into the truck and none of the school authorities including the driver, checked the load of the truck and the sitting arrangement of the students.

The matter returns to court for initial case management on June 11th with Farayi Mahwite from the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) representing the state while temperance Ketshabile will be representing the accused.

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