Attempted suicide of reckless speeding puts other lives at risk

05 July 2019 - 09:00
By Fred Khumalo
If you get injured dicing with death while  whizzing at 110km/h on the road in a 60km/h zone like biker Lodewyk Goosen, your case cannot be regarded as an accident.  /Veli Nhlapo
If you get injured dicing with death while whizzing at 110km/h on the road in a 60km/h zone like biker Lodewyk Goosen, your case cannot be regarded as an accident. /Veli Nhlapo

One of the pleasures of living in a true democracy with a liberal constitution is that you can take anyone to court - including the president - for whatever slight you believe you might have suffered at his hands, or in the hands of his government.

In a true democracy like the US, children are also known to divorce themselves from their own parents if they feel these ancient relatives have failed to fulfil their parenting responsibilities.

Perhaps inspired by cases he might have gleaned from the media, Lodewyk Goosen, of Gauteng, thought he should challenge the authorities in charge of the maintenance of our roads.

In 2012, good old Goosen one day clambered on his expensive superbike and sped down Hornsnek Road, outside Pretoria.

The adrenaline junkie was doing 140km/h on the straight part of the road. Then he got to a curve, which he took at 110km/h. What good Goose hadn't counted on was this thing called gravity. Only an airhead or someone unfamiliar with the word humility would want to drive at 110km/h when there is a sign indicating that you cannot take the curve at a speed faster than 60km/h.

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Needless to say, there was a clash of wills between nature and the man-made bike. The superbike succumbed. It threw Goosen. He sustained serious injuries but lived to tell the tale. He should have gone to church to thank God for sparing him, for not punishing him for his imbecility. But guess what?

Goosen decided to take the Gauteng MEC for roads and community safety to court, asking for damages to the amount of R1m.

He said his accident was due to the fact that there were insufficient road signs to indicate to road users the notorious curve he was approaching. He also complained that the road surface was uneven and a hazard to users.

In court, the MEC maintained that there was a road sign indicating that users had to reduce speed to no faster than 60km/h on approaching the curve. Even if he did this around 80km/h an hour, he would have been able to control his motorcycle.

Goosen, in a moment that would have triggered howls of laughter, said his bike was made for high speed, that it would have "idled" around the curve at that speed.

Can you believe the cheek, the stupidity?

Thankfully judge Urmila Bhoola, of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, was firm enough to turn down the R1m damages claim.

While I admire Goosen for his chutzpah, for his attempts at testing the laws of the country, I simply have no sympathy for him. The laws of this country enjoin us to drive at the maximum speed of 120km/h on our highways.

It does not matter if you are a privileged man rich enough to afford a superbike , or you are Duduzane Zuma driving a Porsche; you must respect the law. If you break our speeding laws - and you're lucky enough to survive the attempted suicide - you should be punished.

If you get injured whizzing at 110km/h in a 60km/h zone, your case cannot be regarded as an accident. It should be regarded as an attempted suicide. Where I come from, a person who survives an attempted suicide gets punished by the community. Goosen must thank his gods he is not from my neck of the woods.

The sad reality is that speedsters like him - who are arrogant enough to say their bikes were made for speed - are every day endangering the lives of other road users.

If Goosen and others like him want to dice with death in their expensive cars and on superbikes, they must go to the Kyalami race track.

Yes, we are a free country; but freedom comes with responsibility.