Durban - Sanele May, the truck driver who became a household name after the deadly Fields Hills crash in 2013, could be released before the sixth anniversary of the accident.
Arrested after the September 5, 2013 tragedy, May spent 14 months in Westville Prison before being sentenced to eight years behind bars in 2014, and is serving his sentence at the uMzinto Correctional Centre.
Two of his supporters say he would have served half his sentence by early next year and is expected to meet the parole board soon thereafter.
Carmen Duncan and Debbie Vine, of the Sanele May Support Group on Facebook, visited him a week before the anniversary of the accident, which claimed 24 lives.
“Of course, the dreaded 5th of September came up; you could see the hurt and sorrow fill his eyes. We reminded him that a lot of victims or their families had sincerely forgiven him, and a few had even gone down to the prison to visit him. One victim had even slipped into the courtroom the day of his sentencing to show her support for him. It is a day he will never forget and he will always have a heavy heart on that day, even in 20 years,” said Duncan.
While there were no official moves, May had told her that some of his fellow inmates had met the parole board the previous week and were given their release dates.
“And the fact that Sanele has seen this is an encouraging sign to him, but we didn’t talk much about his release because no one knows if he will be called next year. There is nothing worse than raised hopes and then nothing happens,” she said.
Duncan said May was “well, chirpy and chatty”, and sporting “battle scars” from playing soccer in prison.
“He had been stopping the ball from going into the goals; his wrist had a few chunks of skin taken off when he had his arm between the ball and the goal posts,” she said.
Vine said May was hopeful going into next year about a possible meeting with the parole board.
“Nothing is guaranteed, but we are all hopeful that he will meet with the parole board in March next year as he would have served half his sentence at the end of April,” she said.
In June last year, Gregory Govender, owner of the truck that May had been driving, entered into a plea agreement with the State and was fined R25000. He pleaded guilty to contravention of the national Road Traffic Act in relation to the roadworthiness of the truck and trailer.
According to Vine, May has never spoken of Govender.
“We as supporters have always been emotional about the fact that Govender has never shown any support for the victims’ families and Sanele. However, Sanele has been very reserved in his feelings regarding Govender, an admirable trait, I feel,” she said.