Mayor in dramatic crash

2014-02-11 00:00

MSUNDUZI mayor Chris Ndela is recovering at home after being rushed to hospital when his VIP car was involved in a dramatic collision on the N3 yesterday morning.

Ndlela was on his way to a Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) meeting in Durban with two bodyguards when, it is believed, a truck made a U-turn in the path of the leased BMW he was being driven in.

His car, which was extensively damaged, shows evidence of a forceful impact.

Msunduzi’s deputy mayor Thobani Zuma said he had spoken to Ndlela, who offered his version of what happened on the road.

“The mayor told me that the prop-shaft of the truck came off, leading to the driver losing control. The truck then veered over to the front of the mayor’s car,” said Zulu.

Further details around the incident remain sketchy as officials refused to be drawn into answering questions.

Attempts to obtain CCTV footage from SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) were unsuccessful with a seeming total clampdown on the images.

Sources within the SAPS and Road Traffic Inspectorate confirmed that they had been given specific instructions not to speak about the incident.

The accident came as the ANC took a hammering for several motor vehicle incidents involving high-profile party members over the weekend.

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s blue light convoy was accused of having knocked down a cyclist in Wedela, North West, and driving off (although these allegations have been widely dismissed), while the ANC Youth League in Durban allegedly used a blue-light police escort, intended for Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, in their door-to-door campaign in Dassenhoek.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said late yesterday that the mayor and his bodyguards had been discharged from hospital.

“The mayor is at home resting. An accident is a traumatic experience and he’s trying to recover. Anyone who wishes to speak to him or pass messages on to him, is advised to do so through the mayor’s office. We need to allow him space to rest,” said Zuma.

He said the vehicle they were travelling in was badly damaged and may be written off.

Zuma thanked those who “responded swiftly upon hearing of his accident”.

Soon after the accident, while ER24 paramedics described Ndlela’s injuries as “serious”, Zuma said his injuries were “minor”.

ER24 said a “maintenance truck crashed into the blue-light vehicle which was headed towards Durban”.

“ER24 paramedics arrived on the scene and found an extensively damaged vehicle. The official sustained serious injuries and was stabilised on scene before transportation to Hillcrest Hospital for further treatment. He was transported along with his driver and bodyguard who both sustained minor injuries.

“The two occupants of the truck, both males in their forties, sustained minor injuries,” said Luyanda Majija of ER24.

The mayor was travelling in the hired BMW as both the mayoral cars (a Mercedez-Benz CLS 350 valued at R675 000 in 2008) and a sporty Golf 5 GTI (2009 value: R313 000) were in for mechanical services.

“The mayor suffered neck and upper body injuries. It’s the impact and the airbags that caused the damage,” said an officer.

Mamba Maintenance manager Sagie Govender, whose company’s truck was involved in the collision, said he had no idea how the accident could have happened.

“With the driver in hospital, I’ll only know later how the accident happened. The driver is a reliable person and he has never been in an accident on duty before. I was off sick so I could not see him in hospital. I thank God that no one was killed in the accident,” said Govender.

The company is contracted to Sanral to maintain the N3.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said Hillcrest police were investigating a case of reckless and negligent driving.

He said seven people were injured and taken to different hospitals in a stable condition.

DA councillor Mergan Chetty wished Ndlela a speedy recovery.

“Our prayers and best wishes to both him and his bodyguards for a speedy recovery and to his family to have the strength during this unfortunate time,” said Chetty.

IFP caucus leader councillor Dolo Zondi also wished Ndlela a speedy recovery.

“We hope that he will not be too traumatised. We need him fit to carry on with his council work,” he said.

“We hope that his family will be able to cope in dealing with what could have been the worst time for our city.”

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