Another runaway truck, another close call

2013-05-14 00:00

IF you live in Pietermaritzburg, you will know that the city is infamous for potholes and runaway trucks.

Yesterday, fate brought these hazards together when a truck carrying municipal workers contracted to fix Azalea’s massive potholes rolled down a steep hill, crashed into a fence and landed in Phumlani Dlungwane’s yard.

Like last week’s runaway truck incident in Scottsville extension, the truck missed the house and only damaged the fence.

But it could have been worse. Had the accident happened outside school hours, there could have been fatalities.

Winnie Kunene said her six-year-old son, Alwande Dlungwane, usually played in the front yard with his friends after school. When the truck crashed into the yard, it landed on some toys that had been left scattered by the children.

Phumlani Dlungwane said they were lucky that the truck had missed their home and landed in the yard. The gap between the truck and the house was less than a metre.

Botsotso Mahlaba, a poet who says he is inspired by Mzwakhe Mbuli and who released a CD in February, was part of the workgroup fixing the potholes. He was burnt by the hot tar that landed on him when the truck crashed.

“The driver had parked the truck and was giving some of the workers instructions on what we were supposed to do,” said Mahlaba.

“I stayed on the back as I was trying to put some of the tar in the containers we had. I heard people shouting and I felt the truck moving,” Mahlaba told The Witness.

After realising that trying to get off the moving truck would not work, he said he accepted that he could die.

“There was no way I could get off. The truck crashed and landed on its left-hand side.

“I then blacked out and found myself in hospital,” he said.

He was burnt on his face, his side, parts of his left leg and his left hand.

While the truck rolled down the hill without a driver, a woman who was in the passenger seat was seen by a bystander frantically trying to apply the brakes, but to no avail.

The woman, who refused to give her name, said the truck had stopped for about 15 minutes and had previously been parked safely on such steep inclines.

“I don’t know what happened,” she told The Witness at St Anne’s Hospital yesterday. “I felt it jerk twice before it began to roll.”

She said she hurt her head in the crash.

Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said the municipality was hoping that the workers who were admitted to hospital would be discharged soon.

“We will assess the truck to see what caused it to roll down … We will also assess the damage caused to the fence.”

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said police would investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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