Durban - A worker at the Hyper Check supermarket in Dr Goonam (Prince Alfred) Street in Durban was crushed to death by a lift on Monday when his arm got stuck in a portion of the shaft.
The 30-year-old man was working in the receiving department of the supermarket chain store when the accident happened.
His arm is believed to have got stuck in an open portion of the shaft, trapping him as the lift descended on him - to the horror of his colleagues.
Police search and rescue, the Durban fire department and paramedics were called to the store shortly after 10am and could do nothing but pull the man’s body from the lift.
The lift is reserved solely for the transport of heavy goods between the various floors of the supermarket.
“There is a big sign on the lift that says ‘No passengers allowed’. Somehow the deceased was in the lift shaft and got his hand stuck. When the lift came down from the top floor he was caught between two levels and got crushed. It was gruesome. There was brain matter all over the floor,” said a police source, who cannot be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
ER24 paramedic Russel Meiring said by the time paramedics arrived a large group of bystanders had gathered around a goods elevator.
“Rescue services had to break open the elevator doors to free the body,” he said. “Witnesses said that they had gone to investigate on hearing the man’s screams.”
The man’s colleagues who witnessed the accident were too traumatised to speak.
A police forensics team cordoned off the a portion of the building while investigators pieced together the sequences of the tragedy.
An inquest docket was opened.
Department of Labour spokesman Nhlanhla Khumalo said officials from the Inspection and Enforcement Services had also been sent.
“An investigation is under way and a preliminary report will be made available as soon as the initial investigation is concluded,” he said.
“The Department of Labour condemns any form any accident or incident which may lead to fatality and we urge both employers and employees to adhere to prescript of the Occupational Health and Safety Act as mandated by the Department of Labour.”
The incident forms part of a growing list of lift tragedies to have hit Durban in recent months.
In December a 37-year-old security guard who had pried open a lift door to try and retrieve a document in a building in Margaret Mncadi Avenue (Victoria Embankment) was crushed to death when the lift descended on him from the fifth floor.