Durban - Detectives probing the hit-and-run death of a South Coast runner training for the Comrades Marathon used state-of-the-art microdot technology to track down the man who allegedly ran her over.
Carol Ann Tucker, who had completed seven Comrades Marathons, was jogging along the R61 near the San Lameer resort on March 3 when she was hit by a motorist who did not stop. She died at the scene.
A police task team investigating her death discovered several parts of a car at the scene, some of which contained DataDot technology, which by law must be sprayed on to all new cars in South Africa.
It comprises tiny microdots - invisible to the naked eye - that, like DNA and fingerprints, are unique to anything they are sprayed on.
Detectives were able to trace the man from pieces of his car that were allegedly left at the scene.
Police arrested a 31-year-old Eshowe businessman on Tuesday after discovering that his BMW X5 had been booked into a dealership in Durban where it was being repaired for damages, allegedly caused by the South Coast accident.
According to police, Tucker’s blood was found on the vehicle when it was seized by detectives.
During the course of the investigation, detectives established that the man had allegedly made a claim for more than R120 000 with his insurance company for an accident that occurred in Eshowe. He had allegedly reported the accident at the Sydenham police station- more than 100km away from Eshowe.
On Wednesday, the businessman was charged with culpable homicide and appeared in the Ramsgate Magistrate’s Court.
He did not enter a plea and his bail application was postponed until Tuesday. Tucker’s family praised the police for their investigation and said they hoped that justice would be done.
“It will not bring my mom back but we are happy that someone has been arrested,” Tucker’s son, Eldo Marais, said.
Marais said that it took a long time for him to come to terms with his mother’s death.
“When I got the call to say she had been killed I could not believe it because the day before we had spoken for over an hour on the phone.” He said she was stressed. After her death he was angry, but had come to accept it, he said.
“My mother was a wonderful and kind person who would give away the last of what she had to someone in need. That was just who she was.”
Tucker had twin sons, Eldo and Elwin, 26, and owned a petrol station near Southbroom.
She had left home shortly after 5am on March 3 for her usual morning run.
Her routine was for her to call her fiancé from Ramsgate when she completed her run and he would then fetch her.
When she did not call, her fiancé went looking for her and later police told him a body had been found in thick grass next to the R61.
Tucker’s sister Colleen said there was a void in their lives: “We were supposed to have completed our first Comrades together this year. Because I had never run Comrades before Carol promised to use her experience to take me over,” she said. “Since her death I have not been able to bring myself to train again. I am also afraid of being run over on the road.”
What is DataDot Technology?
USED mainly as an anti-theft deterrent, DataDot technology involves spraying 10 000 dots the size of a grain of sand on to vehicles.
The dots, invisible to the naked eye and virtually impossible to remove, contain information on the vehicle’s identity.
Last year, the Department of Transport amended the National Road Traffic Act to ensure that all new vehicles put on South African roads have the micro dots, in an effort to combat crime.