How do we know that the accident investigator knows his stuff?

The past 2 days we have found reports in the media of the lawyer defending Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye during his murder trial challenging the credibility of the accident investigator.

Defence lawyer Ike Motloung said in the Protea Magistrate’s Court that Renier Balt was a “half expert”.

Balt was unable to say how many accidents he had reconstructed, he said.

“There is a problem with the expertise. You wish to be an expert.”

Maarohanye and Tshabalala face charges of murder, attempted murder and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

They were allegedly drag-racing when one of their Mini Coopers ploughed into a group of people in Protea North, Soweto, on March 8, 2010, killing four schoolchildren.

Motloung is acting for Maarohanye.

Balt told Motloung that his qualifications were internationally recognised. He told the court that he had a general contract with Road Traffic Management Corporation to investigate high profile accidents.

“I do not have a contract signed every time I am assigned a case,” Balt said.

He told the court he had done more than 700 cases starting from the time he was employed by the Ekurhuleni metro as an accident reconstruction expert.

[Info from News24 and SAPA]

Challenging the credibility of an accident investigator is nothing new to our courts and legal processes. Lawyers are well aware of the powerful impact that expert evidence from an accident investigator might have on their case and will seek every measure possible to discredit such a witness and lessen the impact of such evidence.

But how do we know that the expert witness knows what he is talking about?

Stan Bezuidenhout, a Forensic Accident Reconstructionist with IBF Investigations South Africa  has experience investigating and reconstructing more than 7,500 accidents, including commercial (truck and bus) accidents and offered assistance in answering this question.

We have made this information available on the Arrive Alive road safety website and would like to invite visitors to view the section:

Choose and Accident Investigator

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