Truck driver recounts mall crash

2014-04-29 00:00

THE driver of the truck that careered off the N3 and smashed into Absa Bank at the Liberty Midlands Mall on January 23, 2012, told a high court judge on Friday that his journey had been “smooth” until he had passed the arrester beds on Town Hill.

Just after he had passed the Peter Brown off-ramp Thabiso Motseko said he saw a warning red indicator light appear on the dashboard of the 12-ton Mercedes truck he was driving.

He was transporting a load of ironing boards for his employer, Magimax Manufacturing CC, from Germiston to Durban, and had left Germiston on January 19. The trip was delayed for a while after he had to stop for repairs in the Ladysmith area, due to problems with his clutch pedal. He called his employer, who sent a mechanic. Two mechanics had worked on the truck on Monday, January 23, and he was finally given the go-ahead to proceed on his journey at 6.15 pm.

Motseko said he had no problems until Peter Brown off-ramp, and even stopped the truck at the compulsory truck stop on Town Hill.

Just after the Peter Brown off-ramp the red light appeared. This indicated there was “no air pressure in the brakes”. He had tried to apply brakes and his handbrake to no avail.

Motseko said his load started to “push” the truck. He had changed lanes from the left to the right to avoid crashing into trucks ahead of him. He also tried to change from second to first gear but the gear wouldn’t engage. After passing the other trucks he again moved to the left. He realised that there were construction works ahead on the N3 if he continued straight, so when he saw an off-ramp he branched off. By that time the truck had picked up speed.

“I was holding onto the steering wheel. I had no brakes,” he said.

The truck drove straight over a traffic circle and into the mall.

“What I remember is that the truck crashed against a tree or a fence. Then the windscreen cracked and I could not see. I then went straight. I was just holding the steering wheel to prevent the truck turning on its side. It then stopped. I saw bricks inside the vehicle,” he said.

Motseko said he stayed in the cab until paramedics arrived and helped him and his assistant to get out and they were taken to St Anne’s Hospital.

The case has now been adjourned to October 1, when Motseko will be cross-examined by lawyers representing the various parties involved in the civil trial.

Absa Bank is suing the truck owners (Magimax Manufacturing CC), their insurance company, Zurich Insurance Company SA Ltd, and Green Willow Repair Centre CC, for the R646 466 damage caused.

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