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10 Damning Facts About the Pongola Crash Verdict and a Warning to Reckless Truck Drivers

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In a landmark verdict, the court found truck driver Sibusiso Siyaya guilty of 20 counts of murder in the horrific Pongola crash that claimed the lives of 20 people, including 18 children, on 16 September 2022.

The court’s decision was based on overwhelming evidence that painted a clear picture of Siyaya’s reckless and deliberate actions.

Here are the 10 damning facts that sealed his fate:

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1. Incentive-Based Recklessness

Siyaya was employed on an incentive-based salary, earning significantly more for completed trips, especially when transporting coal. His earnings for September would have exceeded his base salary by R4000 if he completed the trip on the day of the accident.

2. Excessive Speeds Recorded

GPS data showed Siyaya consistently driving at dangerous speeds, indicative of his hurry to complete trips and maximise earnings. At the time of the collision, his truck was travelling at 91km/h. Also, his front number plate was removed to evade speed enforcement.

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3. Deliberate Disregard for Safety Stops

Siyaya chose not to stop at a mandatory stop at the top of the Itshelejuba pass, cresting it at 55-60 km/h and maintaining high speeds down the steepest section.

Read | Truck Driver Gets 20 Years in Jail for Fatal Pongola Crash

4. Conscious Overtake into Oncoming Traffic

Siyaya made a deliberate decision to straddle the double barrier line, overtaking a red car into the northbound lane and accelerating to 105 km/h despite heavily congested traffic.

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5. Maintaining Dangerous Lane Position

For 1.2 km leading to the crash, Siyaya stayed in the wrong lane, showing no intention of returning to his lane, causing multiple vehicles to take evasive actions.

6. Lack of Mechanical Failure

Thorough examinations confirmed that there were no brake failures or mechanical deficiencies that could have caused the accident. Siyaya was in full control of the truck at all times.

7. Fatal Collision Dynamics

Siyaya’s truck struck the Toyota bakkie in the emergency lane at 91 km/h, dragging it 220 metres until both vehicles came to a halt in a drainage ditch. The bakkie driver, although unlicensed, was not responsible for the crash.

Read | Reckless truck driver found and arrested after video goes viral online

8. Callous Flight Post-Collision

After the crash, Siyaya and his companion fled the scene without attempting to assist the victims or report the accident. His later visit to Pongola SAPS was solely to retrieve personal belongings.

Watch | Side Tipper’s Reckless Overtake Sparks Horrific Collision with Car and Truck

9. Tragic Loss of Innocent Lives

The crash killed 19 bakkie occupants on the scene, with one more dying in the hospital. Among the deceased were 18 children aged between 5 and 14, highlighting the devastating impact of Siyaya’s actions.

10. Lack of Remorse and Responsibility

Siyaya failed to provide any credible explanation for his reckless behaviour, showing no signs of distress or attempts to mitigate the situation during the entire sequence of events.

The full judgement is available on SAFLII.

A Warning to All Truck Drivers

This case serves as a stark warning to all truck drivers: in today’s digital age, your actions are being recorded, and any reckless behaviour can and will be brought to light.

The GPS data, dashcam footage, and other technological evidence used to convict Siyaya prove that you cannot hide your actions.

Reckless driving, whether driven by financial incentives or not, can lead to devastating consequences and severe legal repercussions.

Furthermore, operating unroadworthy vehicles poses significant dangers.

Defective brakes and other mechanical issues not only increase the risk of accidents but also make it easier to establish negligence and culpability in court.

Ensuring your vehicle meets all safety regulations is not just about avoiding fines; it’s about protecting lives, including your own.

When something goes wrong, the information you thought would never come out suddenly becomes available.

This trial is a potent reminder that every decision on the road matters. Stay vigilant, adhere to safety protocols, and remember that the cost of recklessness is far greater than any financial incentive.

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