Cape Town -
She was woken by a bang as metal and tinder were torn apart. The room was flooded with early-morning light, and she felt cold metal slide along her arm. Still groggy, she opened her eyes and saw the door of a Ford bakkie in front of her.
“I got a big shock,” Azukile Pongoma told the Cape Argus, sitting inside her shack in Khayelitsha, where the truck was still parked. “I just ran to wake up my mother and grandmother to see if they were okay.”
The vehicle had barrelled through her home from Pama Road early in the morning, minutes after hitting a pedestrian. And while her family wasn’t injured, the 72-year-old man who had been run over died almost instantly in the street.
The driver abandoned the wrecked bakkie, disappearing in the labyrinth of shacks that surround the road, leaving his startled passengers – a group of school children – wide-eyed in the backseat.
Pongoma said: “I was so confused.”
The car’s path of destruction had destroyed the wall, sofa, washing machine and collapsed a cupboard. The owner of the truck – who she said appeared minutes later, and was apologetic and polite – promised to buy materials so that she could rebuild the wall of the dwelling, before he ran off.
She hadn’t seen the body in the street. And there was no word on where the driver had gone.
“I am sad and angry, but thank God we are still fine,” she said. “But my grandmother is still traumatised.”
It is not the first time a car has crashed into a shack along this particular stretch of road, which is situated between Mew Way and Bonga Road. Pongoma said another car had barrelled through the wall of a neighbour’s shack last year, injuring the people inside.
Metro traffic services spokesman Richard Coleman confirmed that it was a hit-and-run incident.
Pedestrian deaths – followed by passenger deaths – are the leading cause of fatalities on the province’s roads. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, during the festive season pedestrians made up 40 percent of road deaths.
Siphesihle Dube, spokesman for the provincial Transport and Public Works Department, said its Safely Home campaign compiled a report on hazardous locations for pedestrians a few years ago. It found that townships next to or very close to busy main roads or freeways were major danger zones. The low level use of pedestrian crossings and bridges at busy intersections was pointed out as another issue.
At the beginning of this year, the Road Traffic Management Corporation proposed that road infrastructure was largely to blame for the high number of pedestrian deaths.
Dube agreed, adding that many of the suggestions on infrastructure outlined in Safely Home’s report were still valid. These include installing or upgrading crosswalks, sidewalks, raised medians, road signs, lighting and signals and restricting or diverting vehicles from pedestrian zones.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut said a criminal case had not been lodged with police by metro traffic services yet.