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Three more trucks belonging to Sagekal Logistics, the company whose truck was involved in the Field’s Hill crash which killed 23 people, were impounded by authorities on Sunday.
This was after an inspection, at the company’s yard in Phoenix, by the provincial Transport Department and Road Traffic Inspectorate which found faulty brakes on the vehicles.
Last week another of the company’s trucks was impounded, after it apparently ran out of diesel on the N3 near Hammarsdale.
On Sunday, Transport Department spokesman Kwanele Ncalane denied allegations that the department was targeting the embattled company.
“As government, it is our responsibility to ensure that the vehicles are roadworthy,” Ncalane said on Sunday.
The department had told Sagekal Logistics owner Gregory Govender of the inspection beforehand, said Ncalane, and he had agreed to co-operate with the authorities.
Officers carried out physical inspections on six trucks at the yard and, after they found “suspicious things”, it was decided that all the vehicles should have their brakes tested.
Ncalane would not elaborate on what those “suspicious things” were, but said the officers who inspected the vehicles were trained and had inspected vehicles before.
One truck was taken to the Road Traffic Inspectorate’s testing facility at eMdloti, but no problems were identified.
But, before the rest of the vehicles could be taken to the Road Traffic Inspectorate, Govender contacted his lawyer, Theasan Pillay, said Ncalane.
Pillay apparently advised his client not to allow any more of his trucks to be removed.
At one stage, the Transport Department officials suggested that the vehicles be towed to the Road Traffic Inspectorate, and Govender later agreed, once more, to co-operate.
Pillay said some of the vehicles the department wanted to test were already undergoing or scheduled for services.
“When the company (Govender) protested, they were threatened with arrest,” he said.
He also questioned the timing of the “raid”.
“It is more than two weeks after the Field’s Hill accident,” Pillay said. “Surely, if the authorities were of the opinion that the condition of Sagekal’s truck was the sole cause of the collision, one would have expected an on-site inspection immediately afterwards.”
Pillay said that the “raid” was “despicable” and called it an “act of victimisation”.
“The legitimacy of today’s events will be determined by the court, in due course,” he said on Sunday.
Ncalane has warned that more on-site inspections can be expected at other companies in October, which is Transport Month.
The driver of the truck involved in the Field’s Hill crash, Sanele May, is expected to apply for bail in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court next month. He has been charged with murder and reckless and negligent driving.