“It could have been me – if I was in the car I would have been killed,” said eThekwini Municipality Speaker Logie Naidoo, reacting to the death of his driver and another man thought to be his bodyguard.
The two were killed when Naidoo’s Toyota Prado, paid for earlier this year by ratepayers, collided with a truck on the Higginson highway bridge over the N2 yesterday.
Driver Nduduzi Gumede and another man, who was not identified at the time of going to press, died as a result of their injuries before paramedics arrived at the scene. The truck driver and his passenger were seriously injured.
“It is a real tragedy and we are distraught at this loss of life. I was shocked when I saw pictures of the vehicle,” said Naidoo.
He was at his Tongaat home with family celebrating his mother’s 80th birthday when he received the news.
He described Gumede as a dedicated worker and said he had been driving for him for four months.
“He was a friendly man and I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” he said.
The Speaker said he had not been on official duty and had released his driver and bodyguard for the weekend.
“I have yet to determine where they were coming from or where they were going. I will obviously look into this in the next few days,” he added.
Naidoo was unable to confirm whether the other man killed in the crash was his bodyguard.
“I’m not sure who the other guy is. I don’t have his name,” he said.
Dumisani Bhengu, head of the city VIP Unit, confirmed that Gumede had been killed in the crash, but was unable to name the other accident victim.
“I am not sure who the other man was. I am out of the province, but I am on my way back to deal with this incident. What happened is very sad,” he said.
ER24 spokeswoman Vanessa Jackson said Naidoo’s vehicle, driven by Gumede, had collided with a fully laden truck.
“The driver and front seat passenger died at the scene from the extensive injuries they had sustained in the accident. Paramedics found them trapped in the wreckage. Nothing more could be done for the two men – they were declared dead.”
She said the injured occupants of the truck were treated at the roadside.
“The driver was able to climb out of the truck, while his passenger was still seated in the vehicle. Both men were taken to hospitals in the area by ambulance,” said Jackson.
The bodies of Gumede and the other man had to be prised from the mangled wreckage of the SUV by rescuers using the jaws of life.
A distraught relative of one of the men wept at the sight of the crumpled wreckage. He did not want to comment on the accident or give his name.