A KwaZulu-Natal investigating officer feels that the R5 000 fine for a taxi driver who killed two people after the brakes on his vehicle failed shows that the justice department is not supporting the work done by the police.

A KwaZulu-Natal investigating officer feels that the R5 000 fine for a taxi driver who killed two people after the brakes on his vehicle failed shows that the justice department is not supporting the work done by the police.

The taxi driver pleaded guilty to two charges of culpable homicide and one of operating a vehicle in an unroadworthy state.

Inspector Ramesh Ramdeen was the investigating officer in the case of the taxi that ploughed into runners and spectators at a fun run outside Pinetown in August last year. He told CARtoday.com he is outraged at the sentence. "We put our everything in to solve crimes, but the justice system must help us," he said.

Ramdeen said he had to take a few days off because he was having trouble dealing with the sentencing. "I spent a long time working on this case. People lost family members and others were maimed. Is R5 000 punishment enough? I had to interview the families of the victims, I felt their pain and this is not right," he said.

Six other people were hospitalised with serious injuries and two people lost limbs.

Senior prosecutor Jabu Ngcobe said he planned to lodge an appeal next week. "We feel the sentence is just too lenient. We are asking for imprisonment with no option of a fine," he said.

The taxi had been taken off the road in June last year for not being roadworthy. Ramdeen said earlier this week that the taxi had been inspected after the accident and the rear braking system was disengaged and the brake linings and plungers had been removed. The brake fluid was as thin as water and only one tyre was barely appropriate for road use.

Advocate Don Smart, author of various motor law publications and CAR magazine Legal Logbook consultant, said that driving an unroadworthy vehicle was dangerous and tantamount to reckless conduct.

"A person who further drives an unroadworthy vehicle, knowing that it is in an unroadworthy and dangerous state, in particular when it comes to critical safety items, must know that their conduct could possibly result in the death of others.

“If that driver drives the vehicle knowing that his or her conduct could possibly cause the death of others and this then results in a death, that person may be convicted of murder," said Smart. "The act of driving a vehicle that is in a potentially dangerous state is reckless and wanton conduct with a total disregard for the safety and lives of other road users."