Bridge ‘rock thrower’ sentenced to 10 years

A Durban man survived the boulder attack.
A Durban man survived the boulder attack.

Sentencing a “rock thrower” to 10 years imprisonment‚ a magistrate heard that the problem was costing the eThekwini municipality more than R7 million a month‚ which it had not budgeted for.

Nkosinathi Mthalane‚ who pleaded guilty to seven counts of attempted murder this week‚ was sentenced in the Durban Regional Court on Friday.

Metro police Senior Superintendent Morgan Subramany presented a victim impact statement at the trial and the measures taken to prevent rocks being thrown at motorists.

Mthalane admitted that he had been responsible for three rock-throwing incidents‚ saying he committed the crimes because he had “pains in his body”‚ which he had to “chase away”.

In July last year‚ he had thrown a rock from Tollgate Bridge in central Durban. In February this year he threw rocks at two vehicles on the N3.

He was caught after the second incident when a group of men gave chase and apprehended him.

In his guilty plea before magistrate Anand Maharaj‚ Mthalane said he knew that he might injure people but he did not care. He promised that he would never do it again.

Subramany submitted photographs to court of an unrelated accident at Tongaat in December last year in which brother and sister Abdur Raheem‚ 7‚ and Amina Haffejee‚ 16‚ were killed after a rock smashed through the windscreen of their car.

“This incident generated fear among the motoring public and deputy mayor Fawzia Peer held an urgent meeting with the Department of Transport‚ the city’s Disaster Management‚ City Engineers‚ SAPS [South African Police Service] and the roads agency‚” he said.

“A tactical team of 30 members was formed to patrol hotspots and a Whatsapp group was created.”

He said after several more incidents were reported‚ wardens‚ who do scholar patrols‚ were sent to bridges during their down time. They were backed up by police patrols.

These wardens had no rest room facilities and had to provide their own chairs. Three had also been robbed of cellphones and cash.

He said better lighting had been put up‚ dense vegetation cleared and there had been discussions with the South African National Roads Agency to install safety devices on the bridges.

“There has been a good public response‚” he added.

In handing down sentence Maharaj praised the media for highlighting the problem and peer and city officials for tackling it.

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