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Durban - A Durban motorist is “lucky and grateful” to be alive after she narrowly escaped serious injury from a rock-throwing gang on the notorious N2 Blackburn Bridge, near Umhlanga.
Having read about a woman driver killed by rock-throwing youths two years ago, Debbie Macpherson never thought she would be a victim.
Following Friday morning’s “nerve-wracking” incident, Macpherson, 46, of Mount Edgecombe, said she wasn’t sure whether she would ever be able to drive on that stretch of road again.
Macpherson was driving alone at about 11am from the airport when she heard what sounded like gunshots. While trying to figure out where the noise was coming from, Macpherson, wife of former DA Umhlanga councillor Rory Macpherson, said she saw objects being flung towards her car.
Rocks then hit the windscreen of her VW Polo.
“Fortunately I have anti-smash and grab on the windscreen so the rock didn’t smash the whole screen,” she said. Her survival instincts then kicked in as she sped off, instead of stopping.
“I recalled what my husband always says about potentially dangerous situations. He always tells me to keep going.”
Macpherson managed to catch a glimpse of a rock thrower. “I don’t know how many there were but I did see one standing on the bridge, looking down at the road,” she said.
The reality of what had happened, said Macpherson, only hit her while driving to the police station to report the incident. “I was in a complete state. I started panicking, thinking about how lucky I was that I didn’t lose control of the car.
“I’m grateful that I didn’t panic and cause a fatal accident.”
Provincial police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker confirmed the incident, saying a case of malicious damage to property was being investigated by Durban North police.
No arrests had been made.
Macpherson questioned if the next motorist would be as lucky.
“I think that the whole issue of rock throwing is not being taken seriously. I’ve read about these incidents but never thought such (a thing) would happen to me, especially in broad daylight.”
The incident comes after the city and the SA National Road Agency (Sanral) announced in August that the pedestrian bridge would be enclosed to stop criminals from hurling rocks at motorists below.
Durban mayor James Nxumalo on Friday expressed shock at the incident. He said the project (to enclose the pedestrian walk) was being headed by Sanral. “But we urge people to stop throwing rocks, stones and any other objects at passing motorists,” he said.
Durban North councillor and her stepson, Dean Macpherson, said the city should be held responsible, because it had promised to enclose the pedestrian walk. “How long will management keep delaying the enclosure of the bridge before someone is hurt or killed,” he said.
The incident is one of several at the same spot over the past two years.
In September Maureen Dettman, of Pinetown, was assaulted and robbed at knifepoint under the bridge when she stopped at a lay-by to let her seven-year-old granddaughter relieve herself.
Vishani Rabindranath, of Chatsworth, was travelling from Sibaya Casino in July 2012. A brick broke the windscreen of her car, striking her in the face.
The same evening a “huge rock” struck Michelle Louw’s car.
And at the end of last year, a South African family visiting from the US were attacked when they stopped to adjust luggage on the roof of their vehicle.
The father, son and daughter were stabbed, but survived.
At another bridge on the N3 two years ago, Siphesihle Zola Zuma died after a rock was tossed off a bridge and crashed into the car she was travelling in.
The teenagers who were this year found guilty of her murder, told the Durban Magistrate’s Court they were throwing stones because they were “bored”.
Independent on Saturday