SHORTLY after Andries Zuidema (29) was handed down a suspended jail sentence of five years at the Wynberg Regional Court for culpable homicide on Thursday, MEC for Transport and Public Works in the Western Cape, Robin Carlisle, condemned Magistrate Karel Meyer’s judgement.

Carlisle intends to approach the Director of Public Prosecutions and ask that the “grossly inappropriate sentence” be appealed.
In 2006 Zuidema, a Bergvliet resident drove into a group of cyclists and killed Bloemfontein resident, Jan-Hendrik “Jannie” Olivier (39).

Olivier was riding with his son, Cedric, and his best friend, Gerhard du Preez, in preparation for the Argus, when tragedy struck at 06:00.
One moment the three were pedalling peacefully down Main Road in Kirstenhof and the next a bakkie ploughed through them. Du Preez remembers how he knelt down beside Olivier and prayed for him in his final minutes of consciousness.
Olivier succumbed to his head injuries in the Constantiaberg Medi-clinic shortly after he was admitted.

The family waited five years for the the courts to finally bring Zuidema to justice, but Meyer’s decision has left them disillusioned.
Carlisle reacted with “shock and outrage” to the news that Zuidema was given a five years sentence suspended to three years house arrest on the charge of culpable homicide.

He was also issued a R5 000 fine, or nine months in jail, for failing to stop after the crash. His driving licence was also suspended for nine months. “While I respect the independence of the judiciary, I am deeply concerned that the sentence handed down yesterday (last week Thursday) slaps Olivier’s family through the face much harder than it slaps Zuidema on the wrist,” says Carlisle in a press release.

Olivier’s wife, Hildi, spoke to People’s Post about her family’s continued strife after Jannie was taken away from them forever, and admits that the judgement was “very unsatisfactory”. “In the end it doesn’t really matter what the judge ruled, it will never bring our Jannie back,” she said.

“It never gets easier. We have fallen into financial and emotional turmoil since the accident. My three children – Cedric, Elzani and Timothy – try to put on a brave face for my sake, but I know that there is a big emptiness in their lives. I cannot be a father to them.”
The knock-on effects of that morning in March is far-reaching and shattering.

Olivier’s mother, Hester, has been to the doctor on countless occasions for stress related illnesses she says.
According to her husband, Jan, their medical bills have hit the roof.
“She has developed insomnia, asthma and Parkinson’s Disease – all of which points to our loss. A mother will always be a mother,” said Jan before adding, “we can only pray.”

It is clear that the family are struggling to cope, but they are adamant that their belief and their unity will see them through.
Carlisle elaborates on what he terms a “slap on the wrist” sentence by saying: “This is, in its practical effects, a R5 000 fine, payable in R1 000 instalments, for killing an innocent human being. No matter what we as road safety authorities do to save lives, no matter how many millions are spent from public coffers, so long as there are no real consequences for those who kill and maim innocent cyclists, motorists and pedestrians on our roads, 15 000 South Africans will be senselessly killed each year.”

Chairperson for the Bicycle Empowerment Network South Africa, Louis de Waal, said the fine is “absolutely ridiculous”.
“The fact that Zuidema fled the scene of the accident is disgusting, to say the least. That alone ought to be enough to send him to jail,” he insisted.

There were reports at the time of the accident that Zuidema might have been driving under the influence of alcohol, but the judge ruled that Zuidema was sober. “The judge said the sentence would be much harsher if Zuidema was drunk, but I ask why? He drove away after the accident,” exclaimed De Waal.
When asked if a stiffer sentence would get motorists to be more vigilant on the road and respect cyclists, De Waal said it would undoubtedly “wake up a lot of people”.

He concluded by saying that there is currently a distinct lack of proper facilities on the roads to accommodate cyclists, but he has faith in the City of Cape Town to implement the necessary changes in “good time”.

People’s Post could not reach Zuidema for comment by the time of going to print.