Street vendor in the right place at the right time to help attacked driver

2013-10-16 00:00

FIRST there was a deafening explosion.

Then everyone watched in horror as the truck driver opened his door and emerged from the vehicle, the fire eating away at his clothes and his body.

While others ran away from the scene of Monday’s arson attack at Shoprite Checkers on Anton Lembede Street, a Durban vendor ran towards the stricken man.

Yesterday The Witness tracked down the hero vendor who had initially identified himself as EB.

Samkelo Mshengu (25), who sells fruit in an alley near Checkers, said he was walking past the store when he heard the explosion.

Unbeknown to him, a group of striking truck drivers had hurled a petrol bomb at the Vector Logistics truck.

“At first I turned to run away with the others but then I heard the driver scream and say ‘help, I don’t want to die and leave my children alone’,” said Mshengu.

He grabbed a five-litre container he was carrying with him and ran over to the driver and doused the flames.

“When the fire was out people came forward to help.

“Someone from the Shoprite store called an ambulance … I waited a while, but left before the ambulance arrived.”

Mshengu does not think his actions were heroic and says that if he had not had the water with him he would have run away.

For him he was in the right place at the right time to help the truck driver.

Mshengu, who is originally from Umzinto, has been working as a street vendor since he was 13 years old.

He left school in Grade 7 after his mother died and has been supporting his family ever since.

He sells fruit and vegetables, earning a few hundred rands on a good day.

Mshengu has a one-year-old daughter and said after the rescue his thoughts had turned to her and how the truck driver had asked for help for the sake of his family.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane yesterday said no arrests had been made.

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