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Durban - The owner of an articulated lorry that killed 23 people in Pinetown after its brakes failed earlier this month on Monday appealed for calm and to allow investigations to be completed.
Gregory Govender issued a statement and held a press conference in Durban on Monday as his driver Sanele Goodness May appeared in the Pinetown Regional Court.
May, a 23-year old Swaziland national, faces 23 counts of murder and one count of reckless driving.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain and loss that this tragedy has brought into so many innocent lives.
“These may seem like just words, but from the moment I heard about this, my life, like those affected has been thrown into turmoil, I have not been able to sleep nor function productively as I am haunted by the images described in the media.”
In his statement read out to the press, Govender said he feared for his life and that of his family.
He was advised not to go to the scene of the accident on September 6 as he could be attacked by angry members of the public.
He confirmed that the lorry's licence had indeed expired on August 31.
“However, we have always renewed our licences within the 21-day period.
“In the 12 years that I have operated my business, we have not once received a fine for operating an unlicensed vehicle because it is simply not our practice.”
It was revealed during a visit to the accident scene by then acting president Jeff Radebe and transport MEC Willies Mchunu that the vehicle's licence had expired.
Govender said he would co-operate fully with any investigation and had cancelled a previously arranged trip to India.
“I was to have left yesterday, and this should give you an indication of the degree of my commitment.”
On September 8 there had been a meeting with investigators and documentation and information had been provided to them.
He said media reports that categorised him as an “an indifferent business owner who lives in the lap of luxury, oblivious to the plight and lifestyle of a young driver, like Sanele” were not true.
“I have been in the logistics industry for 15 years; I started as a driver also at the age of 23.
“I progressed to becoming an owner driver and then started my operation with one truck. It has taken great sacrifice, hard work and tears to build a business that I am proud of.”
He said people saw what he had achieved without realising how hard he had worked.
“I am also a brother, father, grandfather and breadwinner. I too feel the pain of those mourning, daily replaying the image of my truck ploughing through that intersection. I too want all the answers.”
He said he was confident that the truth surrounding the accident would prevail once investigations were completed. - Sapa