‘Brand-new’ road signs still at farm

2010-01-28 00:00

FIVE years after a 4,9 kilometre stretch of the D173 road past the Albert Falls farm of Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele was tarred, many road signs left in storage on a neighbouring farm are still there.

Some of the signs are brand-new and are still wrapped in plastic.

This was the evidence given yesterday before Judge Jan Combrink by a farm worker, Themba Sibiya, who lives and works on Sun Valley farm owned by John Hulley.

Roads Department for failing to repair a pothole in the road which was nine metres long and 2,5 metres wide contributed to the accident.

The driver of her minibus has testified that he drove on the incorrect side of the road to try to avoid the pothole, but was forced to swerve into it when a vehicle approached from the opposite direction at high speed.

The court has heard evidence that opposite the pothole in question was a series of other smaller potholes, creating a narrow gap for vehicles to negotiate.

The province has denied that it was negligent in any way, and has suggested that the driver of the minibus contributed to the accident and was either partly or solely responsible.

An accident reconstruction expert, Wilma Badenhorst, gave evidence in support of the contention based on her observations and calculations. However, she agreed in court that the conclusions she reached would change depending on various factors such as the speed at which the two vehicles in question were travelling just before the accident.

At the time (2004-2005), Ndebele was premier of KwaZulu-Natal.

Sibiya (45) told the high court in Pietermaritzburg he has been in the area since his birth and has lived on that farm for the past seven years. He said Hulley lives in Durban and the farm is occupied by a manager.

He told the court that the tarred section of road runs past three farms, including Ndebele’s farm, KwaNosizwe, and ends when it reaches the railway line. Then it continues as a gravel road for another 3,5 kilometres.

Sibiya said the tarred section of road is “not busy” and is used mainly by vehicles belonging to the farmers along the route.

He estimated that about 20 vehicles daily may traverse the road. This is sometimes counting the same farm vehicles twice as they leave and later return along the road.

Sibiya recalled that when roadworkers were tarring the D173, they used Sun Valley farm to store their equipment, including tractors, and road signs. Sibiya said the signs are “still there today”.

“No one has come to fetch them. They are new … Some are still covered with plastic,” he said.

Sibiya was the last witness to give evidence in the case on behalf of former Tugela Ferry chef Hluphile Elda Zuma (53), who is suing the province over the injuries she sustained when a minibus taxi she was in overturned on the R33 between Keates Drift and Tugela Ferry on December 6, 2004. She lost her hand and part of her arm.

It is alleged on Zuma’s behalf that negligence on the part of the KZN Roads Department for failing to repair a pothole in the road which was nine metres long and 2,5 metres wide contributed to the accident.

The driver of her minibus has testified that he drove on the incorrect side of the road to try to avoid the pothole, but was forced to swerve into it when a vehicle approached from the opposite direction at high speed.

The court has heard evidence that opposite the pothole in question was a series of other smaller potholes, creating a narrow gap for vehicles to negotiate.

The province has denied that it was negligent in any way, and has suggested that the driver of the minibus contributed to the accident and was either partly or solely responsible.

An accident reconstruction expert, Wilma Badenhorst, gave evidence in support of the contention based on her observations and calculations. However, she agreed in court that the conclusions she reached would change depending on various factors such as the speed at which the two vehicles in question were travelling just before the accident.

 

 

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