Three killed in ‘dagga crash’

2008-09-05 00:00

A vehicle loaded with dagga crashed into another car and killed three innocent people during a police chase in Pietermaritzburg late on Thursday night.

Four occupants of a Toyota Cressida were transporting five bags of dagga weighing 25 kg each towards Edendale from Elandskop. They were involved in a shoot-out with members of the Dog Unit, who were chasing them, when the driver lost control of the vehicle.

Police shot one of the suspects in the leg before the accident.

The Cressida collided with an oncoming Mazda 323 at the Draaihoek intersection of Selby Msimang (Edendale) and Buchanan roads at about 11.50 pm.

Three of the four occupants of the Mazda — Nqobile Hlongwane (15), Somiso Luthuli (52) and Bigboy Mngadi (59) — died at the scene.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said police received a tip-off about the the dagga, which has a street value of about R120 000.

After defying orders from police to stop, the Cressida sped down the road in the wrong lane and ended up colliding head-on with the Mazda.

The Mazda was about to turn into Buchanan Road when the accident occurred.

The driver of the Mazda, Tommy Hlongwane (43), said he saw a vehicle with its bright lights on speeding towards Edendale and then heard a big bang before he passed out.

“I was waiting for the vehicle to pass. I thought it was in its lane. After the big bang I didn’t know what happened,” said Hlongwane.

He was taken to Edendale Hospital where he was treated for head injuries. He only learnt yesterday morning that his son Nqobile and the other two passengers, Hlongwane’s friends, had died.

Hlongwane and the others were returning to their homes in Esigodini, Edendale, after visiting family in France township.

Budhram said police started chasing the Cressida at the Henley Dam bends.

“Attempts to stop the vehicle failed, and during the chase, gunshots were fired from the drug vehicle towards the police vehicle, forcing the police to return fire,” said Budhram.

A security guard at the Edendale FET College said he saw a police vehicle chasing after a vehicle before hearing three gunshots.

Budhram said three of the suspects were arrested. One of them was caught while trying to escape. The fourth suspect got away and is still at large.

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