Daneel Knoetze, Sibusiso Nkomo
and Sibongakonke Mama
AN ACCIDENT that left two women dead has shaken the rural community of Melkbosfontein near Riversdale.
The women, Katrina Nonku, 50, and Christina Pieterse, 25, lived with their respective families in cottages on a dairy farm. They were mowed down by a truck on Monday afternoon.
Witnesses said the driver lost control of the truck while going down a hill towards roadworks close to the bridge over the Goukou River, about 6km from Riversdale.
The women, on their way home from town, were declared dead at the scene.
“It was all so unreal,” said Sophia Loster, 25, who was working as a flag bearer to warn motorists about the stop-and-go and roadworks.
“This truck was just coming at an unbelievable speed down the hill. Someone later told me the brakes had failed. It was driving in the lane for oncoming traffic, to avoid hitting the line of cars that were waiting at the roadworks.
“Then oncoming traffic forced the driver to drive off the shoulder and into the embankment on the far side. The whole truck fell over, it was a big crash. I don’t know how the driver survived.”
The driver was treated at the scene for minor injuries. He was in serious shock, said Keri Davids, provincial EMS spokeswoman.
Loster said she did not see the truck hit the women, who were on the far side of the road.
“I ran up to see if I could help the driver and then I saw the two bodies lying there, it was a terrible sight. I knew immediately they were dead. That image has just been replaying in my mind. I couldn’t sleep last night, I’m still so traumatised.”
Zolani Zenzile, spokesman for the Western Cape’s Forensic Pathology Services, confirmed witness accounts.
The bodies had been taken to the Riversdale Forensic Pathology Service and an autopsy would be carried out tomorrow.
Loster was allowed to take off work yesterday, but said she would have to return today. “But not to that site. I’ll never work there again,” she said.
The bodies were identified yesterday by family at the Riversdale police station. Contrary to a statement by the provincial Health Forensic Pathology Service, the women were not mother and daughter. They were neighbours whose husbands worked on the Soetmelkfontein dairy farm.
Yesterday relatives gathered at the house where Pieterse had lived with her partner, Gerrit Jacobs, and their children, Christiana, 3, Devon, 6, and Joanne, 10.
“When she had not returned by the time I got home from work, I tried to call her cellphone. She didn’t answer,” Jacobs said. “The police later phoned me back. I was shocked, but they didn’t say why they were calling. I only heard the news when a detective came to my door...”
Jacobs and Pieterse had known each other since they were children.
Pieterse’s mother, Caroline Pieterse, had travelled from Klipfontein to support Jacobs and her grandchildren.
“She was such a dear girl, I’m angry at the driver. But I am much more sad, than I am angry.”
Pieterse said the family would comment on whether they wanted criminal charges laid against the driver once they knew more about the circumstances of the accident.
Morne D’Emiljo, Riversdale police spokesman, said the 52-year-old driver had been taken into custody briefly, but released since it was found he was not under the influence of alcohol.
“We have opened a case of culpable homicide.”