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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Pongola crash driver’s camera ‘intentionally blocked’, says employer

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The camera in the cabin of the coal truck that collided with a van on the N2 near Pongola in northern KwaZulu-Natal last Friday, killing 18 primary school pupils and two adults, was intentionally obscured.

This claim was made by the truck owner, Sabelo Perry Masinga, sole director of Baobao Projects, which specialises in coal transportation.

He told TimesLIVE something was used to block the camera that faced 28-year-old Sibusiso Siyaya.

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“We have not been allowed to touch the vehicle. The only thing we could pick up was that the camera inside the cabin was blocked off. He used something to block it, so we can’t see what he was doing during this whole ordeal. We can only see what was in front of him,” he said.

Masinga said he wasn’t sure when the camera was obscured, but it could have been some time back after drivers protested, claiming it was an invasion of privacy.

He couldn’t say why the driver was not questioned about it.

He said Siyaya, who he hired in January, was under no duress as a possible reason to explain why he drove for about 1.2km on the wrong side of the road.

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He said Siyaya, from Jozini, about 60km from Pongola, was travelling from Ermelo, Mpumalanga, to Richards Bay to offload about 36 tonnes of coal at the port.

A report by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) into the crash found Siyaya illegally overtook multiple vehicles.

The report identified driver error as the major factor in the crash.

Siyaya faces 20 counts of culpable homicide and is expected to apply for bail in the Pongola’s magistrate’s court on Monday.

On Thursday transport minister Fikile Mbalula said immediate interventions on the route, labelled a “death trap” by residents, included:

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Immediate deployment of KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate officials and municipal traffic police in identified hazardous locations;

Deployment of national police on an ad hoc basis to assist the province; and

Block patrol, in the form of compulsory stopping of trucks at certain intervals to ensure speed reduction and consideration for other road users.

Sanral has started planning a R2.2bn project to upgrade and widen this stretch of road, he said.

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