Durban – The owner of the Field’s Hill crash truck has been summoned to court. The National Prosecuting Authority on Wednesday confirmed it had served summons on Gregory Govender, of Sagekal Logistics, to appear in court next month.
The content of the summons and charges could only be made public when Govender came before the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on July 13, said NPA regional spokeswoman, Natasha Ramkisson-Kara.
Gregory Govender, owner of the Sagekal Logistics truck driven by Sanele May, which ploughed into four taxis and two cars in peak home-time traffic in September 2013. Picture: Zanele Zulu. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA
The crash, on September 5, 2013, left 24 people dead and scores injured.
The nature of the case against Govender is unclear, but there have been expert investigations into the roadworthiness of the truck and the condition of its brakes.
The truck was driven by Sagekal employee, Sanele May, who is from Swaziland.
He was initially represented by Sagekal attorney, Theasen Pillay, who later withdrew.
Soon after, it was revealed that May had submitted fake documents when he applied for the truck-driving job.
May pleaded guilty to 24 counts of culpable homicide, two of fraud, one charge of entering South Africa illegally, two of being in possession of fake driving licences, one charge of operating a vehicle without a valid professional driving permit, and one of failing to comply with a road traffic sign.
His legal representative, Professor Mdletshe, welcomed the news of Govender being summoned to court, saying he had been calling for this all along.
Mdletshe said he was “happy” for Govender that he would finally have the opportunity to answer for himself.
Mdletshe had maintained a close relationship with May, whom he described as a victim because of the conditions under which he worked at Sagekal.
Since his arrest, May has received the support of thousands of people on a Facebook group started by Peach Piche.
Reacting to the news of Govender being summoned, Piche said on behalf of the Sanele May Support Group they were “relieved that, albeit slowly, the wheels of justice are turning”.
She said May was serving his sentence and while the prosecution of Govender did not affect him in any way, they believed that – given the condition of the truck – the families of the deceased and the injured deserved to see justice served.
“It is not a case of being vindictive, but we do believe that Govender deserves his day in court. Road safety is important to all of us and something needs to be done about the unroadworthy trucks on the road and resultant carnage and loss of loved ones,” Piche said.
She, and other supporters even coming from London, had visited May at the Umzinto Correctional Centre since he was sentenced.
“He is doing his utmost to stay positive despite his circumstances and carries the families in his heart.
“He will watch the court case with much interest as it has always been his wish that Govender compensates the families.”
Goods belonging to Sagekal Logistics were auctioned in August last year to recover a debt of more than R866 000 owed to a supplier.
Govender had reportedly said clients were no longer doing business with him after the Field’s Hill crash.
He could not be reached for comment at the time of publication and his attorney, Theasen Pillay, could not speak to the Daily News because he was is in hospital, according to his receptionist.
However, shortly after the incident he said in a sworn affidavit that the truck had returned from a full service before the crash and he denied the brakes had failed.
He also said: “In the 12 years that I have operated my business, we have not once received a fine for operating an unlicensed vehicle, because it is not our practice.”