Death truck firm raided

2013-09-23 00:00

SAGEKAL Logistics, the company that owns the truck that caused the horror Pinetown accident that left 23 people dead, was raided by KwaZulu-Natal Transport Department officials yesterday morning.

Transport Department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said the raid followed an incident on Thursday, when Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) officers pulled over and impounded another truck belonging to Sagekal Logistics, after apparently finding that its brakes were defective.

Ncalane said Transport Department officials arrived around 8.30 am yesterday to ascertain the physical condition of six of Sagekal’s vehicles.

Thereafter, Sagekal’s trucks were driven to an RTI testing facility in Umdloti, where more detailed mechanical roadworthy tests would be conducted.

The trucks may be suspended if found to be unroadworthy after testing, said Ncalane.

Sagekal owner Gregory Govender had been co-operative with the inspection, said Ncalane.

“In terms of the law, we have a right to inspect vehicles on private property, so that we minimise the risk to road users.”

He said that “as we enter transport month” in October, transport sector enforcement for trucks, buses and taxis would be strengthened.

It was not the first time that companies had been raided for roadworthy testing on the private premises of transport companies, he said.

“If it means going into the truck yard, we will do it … We can’t turn a blind eye, as government officials we have a responsibility to act,” he said.

Govender said the inspection had come as a surprise, as the department had only phoned him yesterday morning to say they were at his premises for the inspection.

Govender said he was doing “all in my power to co-operate” as it was “not like I am hiding anything”.

One of his other trucks was on the road in the Bayhead area of Durban yesterday morning.

He said the vehicles in the yard were “all in here for repairs”.

In Thursday’s incident, the driver, a Zimbabwean woman, was arrested and the truck was impounded.

Sagekal later denied that the vehicle was unroadworthy.

Ncalane said although the driver’s licensing documents had appeared to be in order, she had no work permit on her and the authenticity of her Zimbabwe driving permit was being ascertained.

Thursday’s incident follows the Field’s Hill tragedy earlier this month when the brakes of one of Sagekal’s trucks reportedly failed and the 18-wheeler smashed into four full taxis and a car.

A 23-year-old Swaziland truck driver linked to the Field’s Hill accident, Sanele Goodness May, was arrested on September 6 and is facing 23 charges of murder and a charge of reckless and negligent driving.

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