No speed limit at Mandela crash site
Johannesburg - There were no speed limit signs on the section of road where former president Nelson Mandela's great granddaughter Zenani died in a car crash 19 months ago, the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court heard on Friday.
Accident investigator Henry Muller said most drivers knew to start slowing in the area where the accident happened as they anticipated a speed camera on the double-decker freeway a little further on.
Muller is on the stand for the fourth day in the culpable homicide trial of Sizwe Mankazana, 25, the driver who was behind the wheel on the night 13-year-old Zenani died.
He was taking the child home from the Soccer World Cup concert at Orlando Stadium in 2010.
The accident happened on the M1 North just before the freeway. No other vehicles were involved. Mankazana was 23 at the time.
The court heard earlier in the week that he was new in the country at the time and unfamiliar with the route he was driving.
High performance vehicle
Muller said the speed of drivers negotiating the bend averaged between 70 and 90km/h. How fast Mankazana was driving has not been established by the court yet.
The Mercedes Benz CLS500 should have easily negotiated the bend, even at speed, as it was a high performance vehicle, Muller said.
He said he could not rule out driver error, though as the section of road was difficult to drive, if a driver lost concentration for even a second he could crash.
When probed by the defence on whether a mechanical fault could have caused the crash Muller said he could not rule this out, but added that the Mercedes was one of the safest cars on the road.
"It has all the necessary driver assists."
The court heard earlier that the car brushed against a steel barrier alongside the road as it veered out of control.
This barrier was broken and it penetrated the ill-fated car at exactly the point where the child was asleep on the back seat.
Had that barrier not been broken the car should have skimmed along against it.
The Mandela family, including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, her daughters Zindzi and Zenani, and the child's mother Zoleka have been in court every day as have Mankazana's parents, who are friends of the Mandelas.