Hit-and-run accused pleads guilty

Chairman of the Recyclers club for retired cyclists in Fish Hoek, Simon Brooke and Renford Brand in their cycling shirts which they wore to court on Friday.

A 26-year-old Steenberg man pleaded guilty to charges of reckless and negligent driving, fleeing the scene of an accident and failing to report an accident after he crashed into Renford Brand, 76, in November last year.

Mr Brand is well known in the cycling fraternity and is a member of the Recyclers club for retired cyclists and 5F cycling club in Fish Hoek.

Testifying on Friday April 13, Mr Brand told the court of his ordeal after being involved in a hit-and-run for the second time.

Following the accident, he had pins placed in his right leg that was previously amputated at the knee after the first hit-and-run on Ou Kaapse Weg in 2010.

Although the driver was later found and there was evidence indicating he was responsible for the hit-and-run, he came off scot-free.

Mr Brand said this time he just wanted to see justice done.

Mr Brand, known in the Fish Hoek community as Ren, was hit from behind near the quarry at Sunny Cove en route from Fish Hoek to Simon’s Town on Sunday November 5 (“Cyclist in hit-and-run for second time,” Echo November 9 2017).

The accused, Vernito Jaeras, was arrested with the help of private investigator, Advocate Hansie Linde who was appointed by Mr Brand (“Hit-and-run suspect arrested,” Echo March 15). At the time of the second hit-and-run, there were no witnesses and footage from CCTV cameras at Sunny Cove station, which recorded five cars passing through around the time Mr Brand was hit, helped Mr Linde track down the driver.

At the time of the arrest Mr Linde said Mr Jaeras was tracked down by a process of elimination and the cars were narrowed down to two – a white bakkie and a silver Mazda.

Mr Linde tracked the bakkie and found it belonged to a shopfitting company.

He then further traced the bakkie to an underground parking in Sea Point and damage to the vehicle, a broken rear view mirror, raised further suspicion.

However, it turned out that the authorised driver of the bakkie was not driving it at the time of the accident as a friend (the accused) had borrowed it, without his permission, after a party in Mitchell’s Plain the previous night.

On the day of the accident, the accused and a girlfriend were en route to Simon’s Town to sell his girlfriend’s car, the silver Mazda.

Statements were made by the girlfriend of the accused who was a passenger at the time of the accident as well as the driver of the silver Mazda.

In his statement, the driver of the silver Mazda said he was travelling a short distance behind
the white bakkie when he saw a
cyclist grabbing his leg on the side of the road just after he was knocked over.

The white bakkie then sped off. As he was not familiar with the area and had lost his friend (the accused in the white bakkie), he later turned around and found that an ambulance was with the cyclist that was knocked over.

Mr Jaeras is expected back in court on Friday May 18 for sentencing.