Mixed ideas on memorial at Field’s Hill crash site

2014-01-02 00:00

THE white crosses erected at the site of the Field’s Hill tragedy are falling apart, but authorities have said they are open to proposals of a permanent memorial to mark the 24 people killed at the site.

The crosses are technically illegal and while the KZN Department of Transport will not remove them “due to the sensitivity of the matter”, spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said they will not maintain the informal memorial.

On September 5, a truck driven by Swazi national Sanele May (23) ploughed into four minibus taxis and two cars at an intersection at the bottom of Field’s Hill on the M13 in Pinetown. Twenty-two people were killed on the scene and two later died due to their injuries. May, who allegedly had no licence and was working in the country illegally, faces 24 murder charges.

The crosses were erected by responding paramedics. “The side of the road is classified as a road reserve and no structure can be erected without the permission of the department. The reserve area plays a vital role in emergencies or it is used to widen a particular stretch of road,” explained Ncalane.

But he said the significance of the Field’s Hill accident “should not be forgotten”.

“It was the single biggest roadside accident in KZN and it has left a devastating impact on several families and the public. We will support any formal initiative to help remember those who died and create a place where people can pay their respects,” he said.

May, who spent his 23rd birthday behind bars on December 23, has continued to receive support from the Pinetown-based Sanele May Support Group. The group’s founder, Peach Piche, said the white cross memorial has elicited mixed emotions from the victims of the accident.

“Out of respect for the families who lost loved ones the large white crosses originally placed on the scene have been removed. There are cultural reasons as well as emotional needs as to why they were taken down,” said Piche.

She said before any memorial could be built, the affected families would need to be consulted.

Friend of a victim, Nkosinathi Zondo, visiting the site, said he would want the site to be treated with greater respect and dignity. “It marks such a sad period for all of us and the site must be respected. I hope a decision is taken on how best to remember this tragedy,” he said.

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