Woman fined for boy’s death

A sobbing Nicolene Rhoda Hickman, 33, was yesterday sentenced to a fine of R20000 after she was found guilty of culpable homicide, in which a four-year-old boy was crushed to death by her car three years ago.

The accident occurred at the Retail Park Shopping Centre in Beacon Bay, East London, in November 2014.

The toddler, Lutho Tafeni of Nompumelelo township, died on the scene.

Hickman was convicted for driving without paying attention, two months ago.

Her attorney Neil Ristow shortly before sentencing by Magistrate Leon Kemp, Ristow, pleaded with Kemp to spare Hickman from a correctional supervision sentence. He argued “that would be too harsh as she has already paid the price by reliving the memory of the crash every time she was brought to court”.

“People think a correctional supervision sentence is a slap on the wrist but that sentence is rather too harsh. We think that the appropriate sentence on this matter would be a fine of R20000 and a suspended sentence,” Ristow said.

He argued that the woman’s driver’s licence not be suspended as she was going to need it to gain future employment.

Speaking in a high pitch and confident voice, when she took the stand Hickman said: “I have a Code 8 drivers’ licence which I basically use to take my child to school every morning and pick her up every afternoon.

“My husband sometimes works out of town and I have to attend to house chores. I am unemployed and currently looking for a job and I need the licence to get a job.” State prosecutor Unathi Mlungu said Hickman deserved a sentence that would deter other negligent drivers who thought they could get away with taking someone’s life.

However, Kemp said sentencing in culpable homicide cases were the most difficult part of the law where “those close to the deceased will always think the sentence is lenient and those close to the accused think the sentence is harsh”.

Kemp found that Hickman, who is mother to a three-year-old girl, led an exemplary life.

“She is not a ‘criminal’. She is an asset to the community and her family,” Kemp said. He said given that the negligence was “minimum”, a sentence of correctional supervision would be too harsh.

He then sentenced Hickman to a fine of R20000, which was welcomed by members of her family seated in the gallery. — zwangam@dispatch.co.za

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