Tears at pre-sentencing proceedings for Pongola truck driver

The crash on the N2 in Pongola in which 20 people, including 18 children, were killed. Picture: Twitter

The crash on the N2 in Pongola in which 20 people, including 18 children, were killed. Picture: Twitter

Published May 16, 2024


Durban — The High Court, sitting at the Pongola Magistrate’s Court, has heard pre-sentencing proceedings for the truck driver convicted of 20 murders stemming from a crash in Pongola in 2022.

On Tuesday, Acting Judge Garth Davis found Sibusiso Siyaya, 28, guilty on 22 counts that he faced.

Those who died in the crash included children from the Ntshangase household Minenhle Anginavalo, 7, Nothando Ningabesabi, 8, and Thembelihle Prince, 11, as well as two children from the Simelane household – 5-year-old Thingo and 6-year-old Nkululeko, as well as 10-year-old Alwande.

Two more children, from the Nkonyane household, Sgcino Philasande, 6, and 14-year-old Mduduzi Nkonyane, 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 children were on their way home from school. Their teacher Zinhle Florence Mkhize, 28, also died.

On September 16, 2022, Siyaya collected 34 tons of coal in Mpumalanga to be transported to KwaZulu-Natal, 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. Before descending the pass, the accused ignored a mandatory stop for heavy motor vehicles where he was obliged to stop and engage a low gear before continuing to descend the pass.

Siyaya drove recklessly down the pass and overtook several vehicles over the double barrier centre median and into the oncoming lane.

He allegedly continued to accelerate and overtake more vehicles causing oncoming vehicles to take evasive action to avoid a collision with his vehicle.

Pre-sentencing proceedings began on Wednesday where Davis heard address on aggravation and mitigation of sentence from Senior State Prosecutor Advocate Krishen Shah and Siyaya’s defence, Legal Aid South Africa’s Pregasen Marimuthu.

The mothers of the children who perished in the crash took the stand during the State’s aggravation of sentence.

As the grief-stricken mothers testified, sobbing could be heard in the courtroom’s public gallery; one mother cried loudly and left the courtroom – her cries could be heard from inside as proceedings continued.

Pre-sentencing proceedings continued on Thursday (today).

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.

Siyaya is to be sentenced on Thursday afternoon.

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