Durban - The runaway truck that ploughed into four cars and two taxis in King Dinuzulu (Berea) Road, at 6pm on Wednesday night, was not impounded by traffic authorities.
One person died and at least six people were seriously injured when the truck went out of control at Tollgate Bridge, ramming vehicles, and pushing one car in front of it, before it stopped towards the bottom of the hill.
After the injured had been removed from the scene, a private tow truck company took it back to its depot - Kingsley Trucking - in Dinuzulu Road, without any police investigations or inspections carried out on the truck.
A driver of one taxi that was hit in the accident said that had it not been for a red traffic light at Botanic Road, the truck might have caused carnage similar to that in last month’s Fields Hill crash.
The first car, a Golf was hit between Stephen Dlamini (Essenwood) and Musgrave roads. It then smashed into a Hyundai Getz. Just before Currie Road the truck crashed into a Daewoo. The impact of the crash caused the Daewoo to hit a tree before hitting a street child, killing him.
At the Botanic Road intersection the truck side-swiped one taxi, and ploughed into the back of a Toyota Corolla, pushing it forward for more than 100m before going down an embankment.
Taxi driver, Mzwandile Zuke, was on his way to the taxi rank for the peak hour loads.
“As I changed into first gear as the robot turned green, I started to turn (into Botanic Gardens), and then I heard a loud bang from the back of the taxi. I think the taxi spun three times, I was shocked and didn’t understand what had hit me,” he said.
Zuke said he was hit by the car that was being pushed by the truck and feared it could have been worse had the traffic light not turned red for cars in Botanic Gardens Road.
The truck driver was taken to hospital.
The truck belongs to Kingsley Beverages, a national manufacturer and distributor of their own range of soft and energy drink brands. The Durban distribution depot was opened a month ago in Magwaza Maphalala (Gale) Street .
Depot manager Orlando, who did not want to give his surname, said he received several different reports from witnesses.
“The reports are inaccurate. They are assumptions. We will wait for a full investigation to be done,” he said
He said the truck was new.
“Everything had been checked. It was roadworthy so how can people say it’s the truck’s fault? The driver possibly lost control.”
Station Commander at Durban Fire and Emergency Services, Adam Merasi, said the truck and car ended up on a bank with the N3 right below, and ropes were used to ensure it did not slip down while they rescued the injured.
Captain Thulani Zwane, said a case of culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving had been opened.
The driver of the Toyota was 46-year-old Westville resident, Paula Nel.
Breathing a sigh of relief when Nel was freed, was her lifetime friend, Kim Jackson.
“She seems fine for now. I have known her since we were kids,” Jackson said.
According to Nel’s brother, Jeremy, she is recovering in ICU, after having sustained broken ribs, lacerations and a broken arm.
He was called to the scene by a paramedic using Paula’s cellphone and it is believed it took more than 40 minutes to extricate her.
He said Paula was driving in the direction of Glenwood when she was hit.
Netcare 911 spokeswoman, Santi Steinmann, said the injuries had ranged from moderate to critical.
Xolani Dlamini, the brother of Nhlanhla Dlamini, driver of the wrecked Daewoo Lanos, said he was praying for his brother, who was in a critical condition at Addington Hospital.
He had asked his brother to buy groceries at a supermarket in the Berea Centre before they headed back to their home in Newlands West.
He received a call from Sifiso, who was a passenger, and rushed to the scene. He was told by Sifiso, who was in a moderate condition, that the truck may have lost its brakes and said their car swerved and smashed into a tree.
The Dlaminis are uninsured, and the car could be declared a write-off with extensive damage on the car body.
Taxi driver, Sihle Zondi, was travelling with a single passenger, said his taxi was hit along the side by the truck as it passed, dragging the car.
The re-launch of Operation Phezu’kwabo earlier this month, prompted by the Fields Hill accident which claimed the lives of 24 people, has seen the KZN Department of Transport targeting trucking companies.
Spokesman for the department, Kwanele Ncalane, said he could not confirm whether they would be targeting this trucking company for a site inspection following the accident, but that a joint investigation involving the department and eThekwini Metro had been initiated.
Since the launch of Phezu’kwabo, the department had suspended 37 trucks for failing roadworthiness tests.
“Our view is that there are too many trucks on the road and we need to ensure they are roadworthy.”