“There will be no further meaningful recovery. From clinical experience and neurological literature, the brain has a limited period to recover,” neurologist Dr Desmond Shamley told the court during sentencing procedures for Semitjie.
“Most of the recovery takes place in the first six months. You don’t recover significantly after two years. You reach a plateau of recovery.”
Semitjie, the former driver of then Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi, was convicted on December 3 of reckless and negligent driving.
He was driving Mmemezi to a meeting when he crashed into Ferreira in November 2011. Ferreira, who was 18 at the time, suffered head injuries, was comatose for weeks, and had to undergo lengthy rehabilitation.
During the trial, the court heard that Semitjie was driving on the left side of the yellow line, had not switched on his siren, and drove through a red traffic light.
Shamley told the court he had seen Ferreira five times since the accident. He said in his opinion, Ferreira would struggle to find a job or live on his own.
“My opinion is that he will have difficulty in finding employment due to the nature of the head injury. I do not believe he will be able to live on his own. I have been in discussion with his mother to put him in a place of sheltered employment.”
Asked if Ferreira would be able to be in a relationship, Shamley said it was difficult to predict.
“It is a difficult one to answer because he is impulsive and has mood swings. The question is will a girlfriend be able to handle him? He might have a girlfriend, but it might not be long-term.”
He added that Ferreira’s mental capacity had degenerated following the accident. He said Ferreira was home schooled, but he was not coping.
“He just wasn’t able to function. When he was put on a grade seven level, he was not able to function at that level,” Shamley said.
Magistrate Abdul Khan postponed the case to November 20 to allow the State to call a psychiatrist to testify. Prosecutor Micky Thesner had asked for a postponement until next Thursday, but Semitjie’s advocate Michael Monareng indicated he would not be available until November.