Wave of support for driver in Fields Hill crash

2015-06-01 09:14
Sanele May in Durban High Court awaiting his sentence.

Sanele May in Durban High Court awaiting his sentence. (Matthew Middleton)

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Durban - The convicted driver of the truck that ended the lives of 24 people on Fields Hill nearly two years ago has maintained a massive support group.

Swazi-national Sanele May, who is serving a 10-year jail term at the Umzinto Correctional Services facility, has since the outset of the accident, been supported by a large, mainly female, middle-class upper highway support group. They supply him with everything from clothes, tuck, phonecards and regular visits.

The reason they support him is mixed, but largely has to with the belief that May, responsible for the province’s largest single death toll in one accident, is a victim of poor enforcement and neglected safety standards of trucks in South African roads.

Founder of the Sanele May Support Group, Peach Piche, said what has set May’s story apart was that he “accepted responsibility”, he was “remorseful” and they believe he wasn’t solely responsible.

“This has never been one dimensional. The impact on the community has been massive. The accident was the largest of its kind in KZN and Sanele is paying his price. But now we need greater pressure on the trucking industry to comply with the law,” said Piche.

In September 2012, the truck hurtled down Fields Hill after its brakes failed. May took the first off-ramp towards Richmond Road, Pinetown. It is here his truck went through the intersection, smashing into two cars and four minibus taxis killing 22 people immediately. Another two people later died in hospital.

He was sentenced to eight years and 10 months in prison. He had already spent 12 months in custody.

He pleaded guilty to 31 charges in the Durban High Court in November 2014 including culpable homicide, fraud, entering South Africa illegally, possession of fake driver’s licence and one charge of failing to comply with a road traffic sign.

He was 23 years old at the time.

“There are three levels he has to deal with; he is an orphan, he is in a foreign jail and he lives with the trauma every day,” said Piche, a mother of two.

She said without the support of more than 30 people his “journey would be a lot harder”.

“He maintains he wants to leave prison a better man than what he came in. He wants to become an advocate for better road safety.”

Piche, a successful businesswoman in her own right, said running the organisation, which was started out of impulse, became all consuming.
“For six months I went to visit him in jail every day. I got involved because I saw a need. We can’t help everyone but we can make a difference for one person.”

Read more on:    sanele may  |  durban  |  pinetown crash

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