Culpable homicide charges against businessman and high-flying socialite Litha Yaya have been provisionally withdrawn in the East London Magistrate’s Court.
Magistrate Kevin von Bratt refused to grant the state a sixth postponement when the state arrived in court without copies of the missing police docket.
Yaya’s attorney, Neil Ristow, told the court the continuous postponements had placed financial strain on his client, as he had to fly from Johannesburg to East London and book hotel accommodation for each court appearance. The case was then provisionally withdrawn for further investigation.
Responding to allegations that his docket had disappeared three times, Yaya said: “Dockets disappear from the courts every day and I don’t see you reporting about it.
“Now that it [concerns] me, you think it is a story because you want to tarnish my good name, but my lawyer furnished the prosecutor with copies of the docket.”
He said he was happy that the charges had been withdrawn as he had always maintained his innocence.
Yaya, the organiser of the Metro FM Heatwave event, was charged with culpable homicide after his brand new white Mercedes-Benz A Class car was involved in a collision with a red Nissan Sentra on Settlers Way three years ago.
One of the Nissan’s five passengers, Malinda Alexander, 44, died on the scene. She was married with three children.
The accident happened on the morning of December 17 2014. Both cars were travelling from East London towards the airport.
The driver of the Nissan, Cornellius Antonio Smith, 33, told the Daily Dispatch that Yaya was driving behind him when they were involved in the collision.
“It was about 7.40am and we were all going to work. I started swerving and hit the railings. I spun across the road into oncoming traffic. Oncoming traffic hit me and my car stopped still in the road,” Smith said.
“I got out of the car and saw a motorbike lying on the side of the road with the biker injured across the road. A bystander came and said ‘there is the Mercedes-Benz that [collided with] the motorbike and your car’ while pointing at Yaya’s car. I did not know who he was at the time. My girlfriend Rianna Bennett started screaming in the car and I went back to the car to find Malinda not breathing,” Smith said.
He said Yaya got out of the badly damaged car and sat on the railing and started making a call from his phone.
“He did not come and help us. Soon after the ambulance and the police came and took us to Frere Hospital,” Smith said.
Yaya told the Dispatch: “There were two lanes. The Sentra was in the left lane and I was in the right lane. The bike went from the left lane and into my lane and by the time I was swerving to avoid [colliding with] him I hit the pavement on the right, the airbag blew up and hit me in the face.
“So I hear after my car swerved it hit the Sentra on the left and the Sentra swerved to oncoming traffic. How is that my fault?”
Smith said: “The one who caused the accident must face jail time.”
Commenting on the outcome of the case, Eastern Cape police said Yaya was not yet off the hook.
Provincial police spokeswoman Colonel Sibongile Soci said: “The prosecutor requested the statement of an independent witness to be obtained to enable the senior public prosecutor to make an informed decision regarding possible prosecution. Such statements have been obtained and the docket will be forwarded for the case to be re-enrolled.” — firstname.lastname@example.org