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Cape Town - A farmworker died and 24 of his colleagues were injured when the truck they were travelling on overturned on a gravel road near Wellington last night.
They were on their way to Riebeek Kasteel for a night shift at Morester Boerdery.
“It was a gravel road with many potholes and it is in a bad condition,” said police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk.
Speaking to police after the accident the driver, the only occupant of the truck who was not injured, said the truck had started to shudder before it veered off the road.
He said the differential, shock absorbers and handbrake were faulty. As the truck rolled, the 25 passengers were flung from the back. Twelve men and 12 women were injured with cuts, head injuries and fractures, said Van Wyk. A 51- year-old man died at the scene.
Five people were seriously injured and 19 had minor injuries. The injured were taken to Paarl, Stellenbosch and Swartland hospitals, provincial Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman Keri Davids said.
The crash happened on the road to Old Malan Station, near the R45 outside Wellington. Van Wyk said a case of culpable homicide had been opened.
Pierre-Jeanne Gerber, who lives near the crash site, said that he had written letters to the Department of Transport to complain about the road’s condition. The first letter was written in 1992.
“The road is terrible and it has been for almost as long as anyone can remember. It’s too narrow for trucks to pass one another, there are gullies on either side. Potholes, sharp bends, loose gravel. It’s a real hazard, and people would be surprised at how often cars or trucks roll on this road. A few months ago someone even rolled a Land Rover. Do you know how difficult that is to do?” Gerber said.
His neighbour, guest house owner Barry Coetzee, drew up a petition and handed it over to the municipality for the road to be improved. But nothing came of it, Gerber said.
“The 60km/h speed limit needs to be reduced to 40km, and the road desperately needs an upgrade or people will continue to die,” he said.
Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said there were two other fatal crashes in the Western Cape over the past 24 hours.
One happened on Monday outside Klawer, when a tractor swerved in front of a truck coming up from behind. “The truck went over the tractor, killing the tractor driver.”
A Coca-Cola transport truck overturned outside Uniondale this morning. One passenger in it was killed.