Ditch dug in February and left unprotected engulfs vehicle

2013-04-02 00:00

A WOODLANDS driver got the shock of his life when the road beneath him suddenly disappeared, or so he thought, before realising that his car had been swallowed by a man-made ditch.

According to locals, the ditch was dug by Msunduzi municipal workers to fix a water pipe in February and had been left uncovered and unattended ever since.

No warning signs or temporary safety barriers had been placed around the ditch to alert motorists.

The driver, Nhlakanipho Ngcobo (27), said he and his friend Mxo Xaba (24), were lucky to be alive after falling into the four-metre deep ditch. He said they were driving home on the Old Greytown Road on Sunday at 6.50 pm when the accident happened.

“There was another car coming from the opposite direction, so we had to create room for both cars to pass,” Ngcobo said.

One moment he was slowing down to make way for the oncoming motorist, the next he was at the bottom of a “gigantic hole”.

“It happened so fast I couldn’t even do anything. I froze.”

Ngcobo said there was broken glass everywhere and his friend was bleeding. They managed to get out of the wreck through the back window of the vehicle.

Xaba was taken to Northdale Hospital, where he was treated for cuts to his knee and face, which needed stitches.

“I was also worried because this is not my car but my friend’s car. I just walked to town and I sat at a petrol station for the whole night. I only got home at 7.20 am,” Ngcobo added.

According to locals, another car had plunged into another ditch along the same stretch of road on Sunday night. Luckily, some of the local men managed to pull it out.

Ngcobo said a tow-truck driver tried to pull the car out of the ditch but failed as it was too deep.

The car was eventually pulled out yesterday with the help of a bulldozer amid cheers from bystanders.

The owner of the car, Spha Xaba (35), who bought his car in November last year, said he was upset but glad his friend of 12 years had made it out alive.

He said the most important thing was that no one died. “You can fix a car but when a person dies you can’t bring them back,” Spha said, adding that the car was beyond repair.

He said he was hoping that the municipality would compensate him.

Calls to Msunduzi Municipality officials went unanswered and they did not respond to messages left on their cellphone voicemails.

The Witness contacted municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi, deputy municipal manager for infrastructure Thokozani Maseko and municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma.

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