‘The brakes failed totally’

2014-04-25 00:00

THE driver of the truck that smashed into the Absa bank at Liberty Midlands Mall on January 23, 2012, and his assistant, both blamed the accident on brake failure in statements made to police the next day.

The statements formed part of the evidence placed before Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Nompumelelo Radebe yesterday, in the trial in which Absa Bank is suing the owners of the truck, Magimax Manufacturing CC, and other parties for R646 466 in damages.

Brakes expert Laurence Merchant, who was one of several experts who examined the truck after the crash, also testified yesterday that he’d found the truck’s braking system to be seriously defective. Only the two front brakes were in working order.

Merchant told the court that in his opinion the driver must have realised during the trip between Ladysmith and Pietermaritzburg that the brakes were faulty.

According to the statements by the truck driver, Thabiso Motseko, and assistant driver, Teboho Ernest Motoboli, they’d stopped over in Ladysmith after leaving Germiston (en route to Durban) on January 19, 2012, because the driver reported to his employer that he was experiencing difficulty with his clutch and changing gears.

They resumed their journey on the day of the accident — Monday, January 23 — after the vehicle was repaired.

In his statement made to Warrant Officer B.M. Rasmussen of the SAPS, assistant driver Motoboli said when they were approaching Mooi River the driver complained that the “brakes don’t appear to be working properly”.

“However, we continued. The driver was driving cautiously,” he went on.

According to him, as they approached the top of Town Hill the driver started “pumping the brakes as the truck appeared to be speeding up but the brakes failed totally”.

“He tried to pull the handbrake but this also failed. The truck picked up speed and we sped down the hill out of control. The driver continued to try the brakes. The driver managed to negotiate the truck down Town Hill. However, we were unable to stop … We approached an off-ramp and the driver took it. Suddenly I saw that we were heading towards a mall [Liberty Midlands Mall]. I lowered my face in fear. Suddenly we slammed into something (I could not see what as my face was lowered) and the truck stopped,” he said.

In his statement, the truck driver, Motseko, gave a slightly different version.

According to him, “all was fine” as he approached Town Hill and drove past the arrester bed. When he passed the Peter Brown off-ramp, he applied brakes and they failed to respond.

“I pumped on the brake pedal but the brakes continued to fail. I told my assistant the brakes are failing. There was a truck in front of me. I swerved into the right lane to avoid it. We were now speeding down the hill out of control. I tried to place the truck in lower gear but could not engage a gear,” he said.

Motseko said he saw an off-ramp and took it to avoid traffic in front of him but did not realise that it led to a “sharp bend and mall”. “Suddenly I was knocking into the pavement and went over a traffic circle and struck a pole or sign. This cracked the windscreen, obstructing my view. I did see a white car which I struck. Then I hit a wall and the truck came to a stop. I was dizzy and slightly disorientated,” he said.

Both men said they got out of the truck and waited for help. They were admitted to St Anne’s Hospital.

The case is proceeding.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.