Bakkie’s smashing entrance

2010-06-23 00:00

TWO receptionists at law firm Stowell and Company were seriously injured when a double-cab bakkie belonging to a senior ANC MPL crashed into their offices in the Pietermaritzburg CBD yesterday morning.

Both woman were taken to St Anne’s Hospital.

One was treated in the trauma unit while the other was stabilised.

They were busy attending to a client at the front counter of Stowell and Company in Pietermaritz Street at 9.30 am when a black Isuzu KB350 LX came flying into the reception area and demolished the counter. They were pinned against the wall.

The vehicle, which was left with a dent on the bonnet and a shattered windscreen, belongs to MPL Lizzie Fikelephi Shabalala, the ANC’s deputy chief whip in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.

Shabalala’s younger son, who is 22 years old, was discovered to have been the driver.

Said car guard Robert Khuzwayo (53), “I had just showed him a parking space. Instead of reversing, he engaged first gear and pressed the accelerator very hard. That vehicle just flew into the offices.”

The vehicle mounted the pavement, hit a signpost and then climbed three brick steps before crashing through the main entrance of the building, at the corner of Pietermaritz and Assurance streets.

Khuzwayo, who was standing in front of the vehicle, dived to safety.

Legislature officials, including those from the ANC and Cope, were sighted at the scene of the incident.

Khuzwayo said that before the incident, an older boy had got out of the vehicle and instructed the younger one to park properly.

Police later took the young driver to Pietermaritzburg Central police station.

Shabalala accompanied them.

As Khuzwayo was busy describing the accident to The Witness, a man who was wearing a legislature building access disc around his neck accused him of talking too much.

Shabalala told The Witness that her two sons had just dropped her at the Health Department building, where she was attending a course. A few minutes later she got a message about the incident.

“My [younger] son has a driver’s licence. He said he was trying to press the foot brake when he mistakenly pressed the accelerator,” said Shabalala.

She said her elder son had just rushed into the law firm building to collect certain documents.

He left his younger brother to find a parking space.

“My younger son was not arrested; police just took a statement from him.

“He must be still traumatised after this,” she said.

Joseph Ngcobo said he had just left the counter to go into a nearby office inside the building when he heard the sound of the crash.

“One of the three receptionists, who were behind the counter took me into one of the offices. As she was busy helping me, we heard the noise.

“When I went out to investigate I saw the two women lying on the floor and the vehicle inside the building. The counter had been crushed into pieces. There were pieces of glass (from the main door) on the floor.

“If we had not moved into the office, the [third] receptionist and I would have been among the injured,” said Ngcobo.

John Michau, who is one of the directors of Stowell and Company, said he heard a big bang.

“It was like a bomb going off. One of the receptionists was taken to a trauma unit while another was stabilised,” said Michau.

Jeffrey Wicks said: “They sustained serious injuries and were treated and stabilised at the scene before they were transported by ambulance to the Netcare St Anne’s Hospital for the care that they required.”

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said charges have been opened against Shabalala’s younger son.

“We opened a charge of reckless and negligent driving. The driver was not drunk,” said Jeevan.

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