Truck crashes baby

2012-03-02 00:00

A TRUCK ran out of control and ploughed into a house, crushing to death a nine-month-old baby and seriously injuring two of his young siblings who were watching television in their home in Thornwood, Mariannhill, yesterday morning.

Their mother, who was outside the home drawing water from a communal tap, witnessed the horrific accident.

Police sources said the driver of the truck, who had come to the aid of another driver after the vehicle's brakes failed earlier in the day, was also killed.

He was struck by a container on the truck as he tried to jump off the vehicle.

Olwethu Mphinda (nine months) and his siblings, Anele (9) and Ayanda (4), were in their living room when the horse and trailer sped down the road and landed on top of the house, crushing the children inside.

Two other children in the house escaped injury.

Buyiswa Ntleko said her sister — the children's mother — had witnessed the crash. When The Witness arrived at the scene an inconsolable Nomvano Mphinda was inside the home, with the front of the truck wedged in her living room.

Ntleko said Mphinda had been washing clothes and drawing water at a communal tap just a few metres from her home when the truck came speeding past, narrowly missing her.

Thornwood Road is so narrow that two cars cannot pass without sideswiping each other. The road curves and there is a steep decline above and close to the houses next to it.

Neighbours who gathered at the scene questioned why a large truck had been driving on such a narrow stretch of a road.

It appears that the driver jumped off the truck when it picked up speed while descending the hill.

It uprooted a tree and an electricity pole before careering off the road and landing on top of the brick house. The cab smashed into the room, destroying it.

Yesterday rescue workers had the grim task of removing Olwethu and his siblings from underneath the truck.

Said Aphini Ntleko, the children's cousin: "We saw the truck coming down the road hooting. It hit a tree and then an electricity pole. There was a fire next to the pole.

"We ran down and found the truck on top of the house.

"What we saw here was very painful. The truck landed right on top of where they were watching television.

"The two other children were pulled from underneath the truck and we did not even know that the nine-month-old was there until he too was pulled from underneath the truck."

A police officer at the scene, who cannot be named as he is not allowed to speak to the media, told The Witness that the truck's brakes had failed.

"The first driver of the truck had stopped it at the top, because he suspected that the truck was experiencing brake failure. He informed the man [who later died ] that the truck was experiencing problems.

"That man took over the truck and ordered the first to drive the car. Going down the street the truck started experiencing problems.

"He tried to jump, but was hit by a container and died."

A neighbour said: "In the 10 years I have been here this is the first time that I have seen a truck driving down this road. Buses don't even drive here."

The truck was delivering a load, believed to be cement, to the area. It had deviated from its normal route because of road works, an official of MSC Logistics, the owners, who declined to be named, told The Witness.

She said the matter was still under investigation and the company was not in a position to comment further.

Transport MEC Willies Mchunu said he was saddened and shocked by the accident.

Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said it was believed the cause of the accident was brake failure. He said an inquest would be held into the driver's death, a culpable homicide docket would be opened in respect of the baby's death and one of reckless and negligent driving in respect of the injured children.

He declined to give details of the driver who was killed.

The accident came only weeks after a Pietermaritzburg woman, Alice Jogessar, was killed at Liberty Midlands Mall when a truck went out of control and crashed into the complex.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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