Thrown rock kills trucker

2009-04-08 00:00

A truck driver has died in an incident believed to be related to the national freight strike after a rock was thrown at his truck and struck him while he drove on the N3 highway at the Cliffdale bridge near Hammarsdale.

Morgan Chetty (59) was driving towards Durban when a huge rock came through the windscreen and hit him on the head yesterday morning.

It is alleged that a group of people were standing on the bridge at the Hammarsdale off-ramp throwing rocks at vehicles below.

“We suspect that this incident is related to the strike. A rock that [is big enough to have to be] lifted with two hands was thrown on to the truck and it hit the driver on the head,” Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu told The Witness.

“The automatic vehicle location device indicates that the truck stopped at 4.19 am,” said Mngomezulu. The police are investigating a murder case.

Kuben Naicker, director of Star Wheels of Durban, the company Chetty worked for, said it was a sad loss for the company and clients.

Naicker said Chetty had worked for the company for many years. “He was a dedicated and committed worker.”

He said Chetty was carrying a load of steel. “Nothing was stolen. His cellphone and personal belongings were still in the truck, so we suspect the incident was related to the strike, and not a hijacking.”

Naicker said there was speculation that Chetty may have had a heart attack induced by shock as no blood was found on his body, or that the rock may have caused internal damage .

Naicker said other truck drivers reported intimidation, with stones thrown and shots fired.

KZN SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) general secretary Joseph Dube denied the incident was related to the strike.

“It’s not the first time that people have thrown stones at motorists on the freeway.”

He said Satawu held a peaceful march in Durban yesterday.

However, police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said truck stonings were reported in Durban.

“When the people were leaving after the march, they regrouped at the corner of West and Broad streets, and stoned delivery trucks coming in and out of the city. Severe damage was caused to vehicles.”

No arrests were made.

Mdunge said about 2 000 protesters had gathered in Durban.

On Tuesday, police reportedly arrested 17 protesters after truck drivers were pelted with stones and intimidated at Pinetown.

In Pietermaritzburg, trucks were abandoned in the middle of the road after non-striking drivers were intimidated on Tuesday.

According to Sapa, a truck driver was seriously injured in Port Elizabeth when strikers stoned and petrol-bombed his truck.

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