Court inspects horror crash site

2013-05-28 00:00

IT was a “dangerous and gruesome” task for rescuers who helped the injured and retrieved the bodies of taxi passengers who died in a horror crash on the old Greytown Road near Copesville in September 2011.

This was said by Captain Dolf Otto, commander of the police accident unit, at the trial of taxi driver Khululeka Bongani Gwala (23), who faces 15 counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder of the crash survivors.

Gwala pleaded not guilty before acting Judge Piet Bezuidenhout yesterday.

His lawyer, Mohamed Motala, said Gwala will claim that faulty brakes on his taxi caused the accident.

However, state advocate Candy Kander said the prosecution will show that Gwala realised a collision might occur, resulting in death or injury, when he crossed a double-barrier line onto the wrong side of the road, and was reckless as to the consequences.

She said the prosecution will lead evidence of the crash survivors, eye witnesses, and experts to prove its case.

Kander said the testimony will show that Gwala’s Toyota Quantum taxi was overloaded and was speeding when it crossed the double-barrier line into oncoming traffic on a blind corner.

The taxi hit an oncoming articulated truck and trailer, carrying an empty container. Both vehicles plunged down an embankment, the truck coming to rest on top of the taxi.

The state also alleges in its indictment that Gwala knew that the brakes of his taxi were not fully functional and that the taxi wasn’t roadworthy that day. It says he had realised that he might endanger the lives of his passengers and other road users, and reconciled himself to that eventuality.

Otto, who retraced Gwala’s journey from Cramond, took measurements, prepared sketches, and took photographs of the accident scene that were shown in court on a big screen yesterday. He said emergency services had to get to work directly under the wheel of the truck, which was balancing on top of the taxi.

This was both a dangerous and gruesome task, he said.

The jaws of life were used to extricate people trapped in the wreckage.

Otto said damage to the front left of the truck proved the taxi was in its path and travelling on the wrong side of the road when the vehicles collided, as witnesses alleged.

Shortly before colliding with the truck, Gwala’s taxi also allegedly “side-swiped” a stationary car in a line of vehicles he overtook while they were queuing at the busy intersection during peak hour traffic. Otto said the speed limit in the area was 60 km/h.

The case is proceeding..

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