Fatal crash: truck driver found guilty

Sibusiso Siyaya

Sibusiso Siyaya

Published May 15, 2024


Durban — The truck driver charged with 20 murders stemming from a crash in Pongola in 2022 was found guilty on Tuesday by the High Court, sitting at the Pongola Magistrate’s Court.

Sibusiso Siyaya, 28, was also charged with reckless and negligent driving, and failure to perform the duties of a driver after an accident. Acting Judge Garth Davis found Siyaya guilty on these two counts as well.

Sentence proceedings will begin on Wednesday (today).

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane welcomed the conviction.

“We believed that the crash was the result of human error on the part of the driver. We have been monitoring the case with keen interest; we hope this judgment sets a precedent and acts as a deterrent to other reckless truck drivers.

“We hope that the court’s sentence will also send a strong message to other like-minded truck drivers on our roads.”

The department hoped the sentence would also bring closure to the affected families, he said.

Evidence during the trial, led by senior State advocate Krishen Shah, indicated that Siyaya was employed as a heavy motor vehicle driver by Mr Perry Masinga on behalf of BaoBao Projects, a company that transported coal from Mpumalanga to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal in KZN.

On September 16, 2022, Siyaya collected 34 tons of coal in Mpumalanga to be transported to KZN, driving an OAF mechanical horse and two side tipper trailers. En route, he experienced a mechanical issue with his rear trailer brake which he attended to in Piet Retief.

He proceeded on the N2 towards Richards Bay via the ltshelejuba Pass. He ignored a mandatory stop for heavy motor vehicles to engage a low gear prior to descending the pass.

The State said Siyaya, who has been in custody since his arrest in September 2022, had driven recklessly down the pass and overtook several vehicles over the double barrier centre median. He accelerated and overtook more vehicles causing oncoming vehicles to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

The deceased, 18 pupils, a driver, and a teacher were all travelling in a Toyota light delivery vehicle (LDV) in the oncoming lane with unlicensed Lethukuthula Sphephelo Nkonyane, 19, at the wheel.

Siyaya’s vehicle and the LDV collided head-on. All 20 occupants of the LDV were fatally injured. Children from the Ntshangase household died, including Minenhle Anginavalo, 7, Nothando Ningabesabi, 8, and Thembelihle Prince, 11, and two children from the Simelane household – Thingo, 5, and Nkululeko, 6, and Alwande, 10.

Two children from the Nkonyane household, Sgcino Philasande, 6, and Mduduzi Nkonyane, 14, were also killed. The other children who died were Bandile Snenhlanhla Nyawo, 11, Asanda Paris Mhlongo, 14, Lwandle Mpilonhle Nkonde, 6, Kusekuhle Lizongathi Goba, 5, Junior Amile Thikazi, 6, Siyanda Nkosinathi Mlangeni, 13, and Mpilenhle Obenathi Makhangeza, 7. The pupils’ teacher Zinhle Florence Mkhize, 28, also died.

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