The cycling community celebrated a small victory when the driver that hit and killed Koos Roux was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Driver Geoffrey Merrick appeared in the Kuilsriver Magistrates’ Court towards the end of last month, where he was found guilty of culpable homicide and three Road Act infringements, according to a statement published by the Pedal Power Association.
Merrick collided with the former national age-group track champion in May 2013 before fleeing the scene.
He was arrested 10 days later and appeared at the Kuilsriver District Court later that month, where he faced charges of culpable homicide and failure to stop after an accident.
The issue of road safety was a hot topic of discussion last month when cyclists and corporates joined forces to start the Rite2Ride campaign.
Spearheaded by Adam Brooke, the campaign was started partly in response to the death of well-known cyclist Greg Anderson, who was killed while cycling in Hazyview in July.
The driver that killed him was later arrested and, days later, charged and sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment, 18 of which were suspended for five years.
The news came as a shock to the cycling community and irregularities in sentencing was just one of the concerns raised by Anderson’s friend, Tony Reilly.
Robert Vogel, Pedal Power Association’s CEO, said the sentence in the Koos Roux case was a landmark ruling and may go some way in ensuring cyclists’ safety on the road.
He said it was the first time a prison sentence had been handed down in a fatal hit-and-run incident involving a cyclist in South Africa.
Vogel, who was given the opportunity to explain how cyclists felt ignored by the legal system, said this case could very well set an important precedent.
“While some might not agree with the length of the jail term and feel it’s too short, in terms of what was expected, this is the first time a driver has been found guilty of killing a cyclist and sentenced to jail.
“This is also the first time the prosecution has asked a cycling organisation for input before sentencing and to make a case for the plight of cyclists on our roads.”
He said he hoped other magistrates would look to this case for guidance in sentencing similar cases.