Collision was “impossible” to avoid

“I took my sister’s hand and told her that we’ll make it, but her hand did not feel as though it was a living hand. Then various people pulled me out of the wreckage.” This was the testimony of Antonia Joschko in the Swakopmund regional court where the murder trial of Jandré Dippenaar resumed on Wednesday.
Dippenaar is accused of having caused a fatal car crash on 29 December 2014 on the Swakopmund-Henties Bay road which cost the lives of six people.
After an adjournment of close to six months, taking the witness stand was German national Antonia Joschko, the sole survivor of the vehicle in which she, her parents and sister were travelling when Dippenaar’s vehicle allegedly slammed into them.
Dressed in black, she had to relive that horror day when she lost her father, mother and sister. Joschko (19) was 16 years old at the time.
“It had always been my mother’s dream to come to Namibia,” she said. The family chose to visit the country in December 2014, as it was the time her parents celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. At the same time, her mother would have celebrated her 50th birthday on 5 January 2015.
The family arrived in Windhoek and rented a Ford Ranger double cab vehicle to go on a safari tour through the country.
On that fateful morning, 29 December 2014, the family left Palmwag Lodge, where they had stayed the night before. They travelled south along the Skeleton Coast towards Swakopmund. In the vicinity of Cape Cross the family ate lunch, where after they visited the seal colony at Cape Cross.
Then their journey to Swakopmund resumed.
While describing the setting she said that her father, Markus Walter Helmut Joschko, was driving and that he was always a very conscious and careful driver. Her mother Stephanie Schermuck-Joschko was seated next to her father on the passenger seat. Antonia was seated behind her father on the right side while her sister, Alexandra Marlene Joschko (19), was seated next to her behind their mother.
According to her the road between Henties Bay and Swakopmund was quite congested on that day and there were many cars travelling in both directions. “As the road had no markings and was not tarred my father drove extra careful,” she said. It was a warm day and the visibility was good. “I was talking to my sister along the way.
The last conversation I remember was about four friends of ours whom we would meet up with in two days’ time,” she said.
While they were travelling over a little hill “I suddenly saw a big white car appear right in front of us in our lane,” she said. “It went so fast. It was less than a second later that the collision occurred.”
Antonia Joschko remembers her father attempting to evade a collision and steer to the right while somebody in the vehicle gasped. “Maybe it was his instinct, but I think my father saved my life that day,” she told the court.
According to the witness the collision occurred the moment her father tried to steer away. “I never lost consciousness, but I couldn’t make out where I was. Only when the vehicle came to a stand-still, could I make out heaven from earth.”
After the collision, the Ford Ranger double cab came to rest on its roof, Antonia Joschko was still trapped in her seatbelt hanging upside-down. “My stomach was very sore. I managed to slip through the seatbelt and sat kneeling on the roof. I looked through the window and saw a burning car,” she remembers. She tried to open the door but was unsuccessful due to immense pain in her arms.
Shortly thereafter two people approached the vehicle and initially spoke a language she could not understand. They also tried to open the door but failed. They then decided to smash the window. “I turned around to face my sister but I could only see her hair and one hand. I took her hand and told her that we will make it, but the hand did not feel as though it was a living hand,” she explained tears running down her face.
At that moment, the window was smashed and Antonia Joschko was pulled out of the wreckage. She laid down on the floor but was unable to move due to immense pain. She noticed a man lying close-by with a serious injury on his leg – this person she identified as Jandré Dippenaar in court. “I remember him well as he stared at me a long time. He made me feel unwell,” she said.
Shortly thereafter an ambulance arrived on scene and the paramedics first attended to Dippenaar and then to her. She was initially transported to the State Hospital in Swakopmund, but later on the same day she was transferred to the Welwitschia Hospital in Walvis Bay. She sustained a broken nose, various broken bones and severe injury to one of her kidneys.
During the testimony state prosecutor Faith Chipepera-Nyaungwa asked Antonia Joschko if there was any possibility the collision could be avoided? “That would have been impossible. My father couldn’t have avoided it, even if he steered left off the road. The time between me seeing that car and the collision was less than one second,” she said.
After Antonia Joschko’s testimony Magistrate Gaynor Poulton remanded the case to yesterday morning [Thursday for cross-examination by the defence. Dippenaar is represented by Petrie Theron as well as advocate Louis Botes. Botes in his cross-examination stated to Joschko her father caused the accident and he would put proof before court to that effect.
Dippenaar, who is out on a warning, is facing a count of reckless or negligent driving alternatively inconsiderate driving, a count of fraud alternatively furnishing false information, a count of not being in possession of a driver’s license and six counts of murder. The three passengers in the FJ Cruiser, that died in the accident, were JC Horn, Dinah Pretorius and Charlene Schoombee.

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