Joyride leaves grandfather fuming

2013-04-22 00:00

SNEAKING your parents’ car away for a joyride is never a good idea at the best of times. But sneaking their car away and then using it as a boat is decidedly inadvisable.

This is what a group of friends from Grange found out on Saturday night, to the cost of one of their grandparents, when the car they were travelling in was washed off the notorious Woodhouse Road low-level bridge.

Taxi driver Mxolisi Nene (20) secretly snatched his grand­father’s Toyota Tazz from their home. His passengers, three girls from the neighbourhood, had already asked their parents to borrow a car — and been refused.

Having secured a car, and with Nene at the wheel, the four were making their way to a get-together in Sobantu when disaster struck at about 10 pm.

Saturday’s rain raised the level of the Duzi and the Woodhouse Road bridge was awash. Nene, however, pressed on and the car was washed off the bridge.

Sisters Sisanda and Thembelihle Molefe, Poilete Marajwana and Nene had to swim for their lives as the car sank.

Thembelihle said the bridge was not closed at the time.

“There were no signs saying the bridge is flooded. We only noticed that there was a sign today, but the boom gate was not closed.

“Thank God Mxolisi managed to pull us out,” she said.

The four were given a lift to Grange, but Nene, too scared to face his pensioner grandfather, slept over at the girls’ home.

Sisanda was grateful that all were safe. “We are not harmed, but we don’t know how we are going to face the owner of the car,” she said with some trepidation.

Nene, who shivered as he watched police and divers search for the car yesterday, said he regretted his actions.

Hector Molefe told The Witness his daughters had asked to use one of the family cars, and he had refused.

“They wanted the car and I told them that I was not going to give them the car at night,” he said.

Clearly unimpressed by his grandson’s actions, Nene’s grandfather, who would not be named, watched as the wreck of his only car was pulled from the river yesterday. He said he was not aware that the car was not at home until yesterday morning.

“I still don’t believe this. It is sad that he took my car and it’s here now,” he said.

Last week, The Witness reported on a resident of the area who urged the municipality to clean under the low-lying bridge if it wanted to avoid further tragedy.

The resident said that water was forced to flow over the bridge because the bottom was blocked with silt and debris.

Duzi-Umngeni Conservation Trust chairperson Dave Still agreed. He said 10 large pipes immediately below the bridge had probably become filled with silt over the years.

These needed to be cleaned regularly for water to flow freely.

However, even with the pipes cleaned, there would be times after excessive rain, as had fallen over this weekend, when the water would flow over the bridge.

It was up to people to be careful and never to cross the bridge at these times.

Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma said it was unfair to blame the municipality for the dirty river.

“We can only do so much, and if people continuously pollute the river, it becomes everybody’s problem,” he said.

“If for whatever reason the boom is not closed, we appeal for common sense to prevail and for people to not cross a flooded bridge, while we are putting plans in place to fix it.”

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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