A young man who more than five years ago hit a cyclist and left him for dead entered into a plea and sentence agreement with the state on Thursday.
The 24-year-old Ruvan Olivier appeared in the Krugersdorp Regional Court where, in terms of a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to all the charges against him. These include culpable homicide and breach of the Road Traffic Act.
Olivier hit cyclist Nino Oppel (41) in the early hours of 2018 and then drove away from the scene. Although he was arrested at the time, he was released soon after and never prosecuted. Only after AfriForum’s private prosecution unit intervened was prosecution reintroduced.
Olivier was only 19 years old at the time, with a promising future in rugby, when he killed Oppel.
According to the agreement that was read out in court on Thursday, four of the charges will be dealt with together for sentencing purposes and the fifth charge separately.
Olivier was given a suspended sentence of five years for the first four charges against him.
Prosecutor Micky Thesner told the court that the state and Olivier’s legal representative, Marius van Wyngaard, had agreed on several conditions. Among other things, Olivier is placed under house arrest for the full five years, he must do 576 hours of community service and must complete several self-enrichment programs.
It was also agreed that he should pay R5 000 monthly to Oppel’s widow, Daleen, for five years.
His driver’s license has been suspended for a year and he may not renew it at this time.
On the last charge, which relates to Olivier’s failure to ascertain the nature and extent of the damage after the accident, he was fined R2 000 or sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years.
He also had to apologize in writing to Daleen Oppel for the events. She received and read this letter shortly before the court proceedings.
The court upheld the sentencing agreement.
Thesner argued in court that Olivier had no legal defense against his actions, and that a plea and sentence agreement had been agreed upon.
Daleen Oppel stated in her victim impact report that she and Nino had been in a relationship for 16 years. They were married for 12 years and have two young children.
“Five years ago Nino breathed his last, but it feels like yesterday,” she wrote.
“Your (Olivier’s) actions changed my life forever and ruined my family. You left two children fatherless and they will never see what a wonderful father he was. All my husband wanted was to be a father – and you took that away from him.
“With Nino’s death, my heart, my future and my dreams have gone with it. I can never move on from this. I can never forgive you.”
Magistrate Keith Page said it was clear that Olivier’s actions had greatly traumatized Oppel’s family, “and I hope that in time they will find it in their hearts to forgive you”.
Olivier was on his way to Krugersdorp – to a friend’s house – shortly after 05:00 on 24 February when he collided with the back of Oppel’s bicycle. He was on his way back after a night where he and friends ate, danced and drank.
He drove away from the scene and later parked his car in his mother’s garage.
Forensic analyzes later found that the carbon fiber on Oppel’s bike matched the fibers found on Olivier’s car.
Fragments of Olivier’s car were also compared with the pieces of glass found on Oppel and according to the evidence they were “indistinguishable”.