Durban - Transport company boss Gregory Govender could be in the dock of the Durban High Court along with his driver, Sanele May in August, also facing criminal charges relating to the horrific Field’s Hill crash in which 24 people died.
The Mercury understands that the State is now in possession of at least four expert reports that indicate that the truck, driven by May, which ploughed into several vehicles after careering into the intersection at the off-ramp of the M13 and Old Main Road in Pinetown, was unroadworthy and had faulty brakes.
These are expected to be used in the trial along with reports from an on-board tracking system which allegedly indicate that May drove erratically, sometimes at high speed, and recklessly.
On Tuesday May, a Swazi national who has been denied bail, was supposed to make his first appearance in the Durban High Court on an indictment containing 30 criminal charges.
But police and prison officials got it wrong and took him back to Pinetown Magistrate’s Court where he had previously appeared.
State prosecutor Alistair Walters, in May’s absence, told Judge Shyam Gyanda that the case could still not be set down for trial “because we are considering adding a further accused to the indictment”.
It is understood Govender, who owns Sagekal Logistics, wants to make representations to prosecuting authorities.
Should these fail, in terms of South Africa law he cannot be charged personally, but as a representative of the company, and, if convicted, will face only a fine.
However, May could serve time in jail.
He was arrested the day of the accident on September 5, just moments after the truck smashed through taxis and cars crossing an intersection and came to a halt on the M13.
The list of injuries suffered by those killed, listed on the indictment, bears testament to the impact of the crash, with all dying from multiple blunt force injuries of the head, spine, chest, pelvis and “severe crush injuries”.
It is in connection with these that May stands accused of 24 counts of culpable homicide, alternatively reckless and negligent driving.
He has also been charged with possessing a false traffic registration number certificate and a false public driving permit and two counts of fraud relating to using them to get the job with Sagekal.
Further charges are for being in the country illegally, operating a vehicle without a professional driving permit, and failing to stop at a stop sign.
The indictment sheds light on how May - who has a heavy truck driver’s licence issued in Swaziland in February 2012 - was hired and the events leading up to the accident.
In August 2013, he went to Sagekal in Phoenix looking for work as a heavy duty truck driver but failed an internal driving test.
Two weeks later, on September 2, he went back. This time he passed and, after providing the false documentation, he was hired on the same day.
That afternoon he was allocated a truck and told to drive to Durban harbour to collect a load, take it to Joburg, collect a load there and return with it to Durban. It is alleged he was instructed to avoid the Mariannhill and Villiers toll plazas.
In the early hours of September 5, on the return trip, he stopped outside Harrismith claiming the truck had “engine failure”.
But it emerged he had run out of diesel and he continued his journey after refuelling.
That afternoon he left the N3 at Hilton and drove down the old Main Road all the way through the Pietermaritzburg city centre and back on to the N3.
He left it again just before 6pm, joining the M13, ignoring the compulsory truck stop at Kloof and drove down Field’s Hill.
He lost control at times and struck other vehicles before taking the Richmond Road off-ramp and slamming into vehicles in the intersection.
May’s advocate, Louis Barnard, indicated yesterday that he was going to Pinetown to consult with his client.
Judge Gyanda adjourned the case “in absentia” until early August, when the State will have made a decision whetherto charge Govender and the matter will be set down for trial.