65-year-old KwaZulu-Natal businessman Anastasio Peyios, who appeared in the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, pleaded not guilty to negligently causing the death of eight people and a charge of drunken driving, reports Public Eye.
The family of eight was on a weekend holiday to celebrate the birthday of 57-year-old Lorraine Rampersadh, who was one of the adults in the car. The other adults were her daughter Veroshnie, son-in-law Mitchell Mahabeer and brother Jesse Mahabeer.
The children were Isabelle, 11, Hannah, 7, Leah, 6, and Titus, 3.
Peyios, who was travelling in a bakkie, claimed he took heart medication when the accident occurred.
Thandeka Joyful Shelembe, a provincial inspector for Road Traffic Inspectorate, testified on Thursday that at the accident scene Peyios’s breath had a “strong alcohol smell”.
“When I asked him if he needed medical attention, he told me he was fine. He did not mention his heart condition and he never said he had taken tablets for it,” said Shelembe.
The court heard that when Shelembe screened him for his alcohol content, it was 0.91.
“It should have been less than 0.24. His reading showed he exceeded the lawful limit,” she told the court.
Family spokesperson Aaron Harry said the family wanted justice.
“Lorraine was my sister. We don’t only want justice for us, but every other family whose loved one was taken by drunken or neglect driving. This ordeal has taken a toll on our family,” said Harry.
The trial continues.