Court told of taxi’s death race

2013-05-31 00:00

TAXIS regularly “jump” the traffic at peak times at the Allandale intersection and drive on the wrong side of the road to try to beat the traffic lights.

This evidence was given yesterday by motorist Daniel Govender who witnessed a head-on collision between a taxi driven by Khululeka Gwala (23) and a truck on that stretch of the road on September 30, 2011.

Fifteen taxi passengers were killed.

Gwala has pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of murder and four of attempted murder for allegedly causing the accident by deliberately driving on the incorrect side of the road into the path of oncoming traffic.

Gwala alleges faulty brakes caused the accident.

Govender testified he was stationary in bumper-to-bumper traffic at the intersection (on Bambatha Road) when he looked in his side mirror and saw Gwala’s taxi emerge from the queue of cars behind him and drive on the wrong side of the road.

Simultaneously, he saw the truck coming towards them from the front, travelling in the same lane as the taxi. “Both guys were going at quite a pace,” he said.

Govender said the taxi and the truck seemed to “do a dance” in the middle of the road as they veered to the left and right before they collided.

When the truck hit the minibus, the taxi fell on its side and the truck’s horse lifted into the air and its tyres crashed down on to it. The two vehicles “bounced” down an embankment and stopped with the truck resting on top of the taxi.

Govender raced over to see if he could help. He saw a flame and quite a lot of oil around the wreckage and ran to fetch a fire extinguisher from another vehicle.

He said he and a policeman moved three people away from the wreckage and helped the driver of the taxi who climbed out through the windscreen. By then paramedics had arrived.

Under cross-examination by Gwala’s lawyer, Mohamed Motala, Govender said he didn’t know if the taxi had experienced brake failure.

But he said the sight of taxis jumping the queue of cars and trying to race the robot on the wrong side of the road was a daily occurrence.

The case is proceeding.

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