No one died ... so cops don’t bother

2018-12-18 16:13
Lucky Hadebe was seriously injured in the accident on Saturday last week.

Lucky Hadebe was seriously injured in the accident on Saturday last week.

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Four vehicles were wrecked, one man broke both his legs, some occupants were badly hurt and the culprit reeked of alcohol.

Yet the law enforcers at the Plessislaer Police Station initially refused to open a case of reckless and negligent driving or drunk driving because “no one has died”.

This is what transpired on the Edendale Road on Saturday last week: A truck smashed into a stationary vehicle, which in turn hit another vehicle. Somehow the truck then hit Thuli Ndaba’s vehicle, and she then hit the car in front of her.

Those inside the mangled vehicles were shocked and panicked, said Ndaba, who added that her eight-year-old daughter was sobbing hysterically. “Taxi drivers and other motorists stopped to help,” she said.

Ndaba added that the truck driver’s door was opened and the people who had gathered around the truck saw “bottles of beer and whiskey” piled inside.

“The driver was unable to move. He was drunk,” she said.

Bolstering what Ndaba said, Ndumiso Gabriel Buthelezi, whose car was also hit, said he saw the driver “laying” on the seat.

“Some people went inside the truck to see if the driver was okay. They said he was drunk. Someone from inside screamed that there were two bottles of whiskey,” said Buthelezi.

He said the driver was taken into an ambulance by paramedics.

Ndaba said two police officers from the Plessislaer Police Station then arrived.

Ndaba, who is a prosecutor at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court but who stressed she was speaking to The Witness in her personal capacity, said there was chit-chat that the truck skipped a red robot.

One man then turned to her and said: “Sisi, I saw he was going to kill people.”

Ndaba asked the policewoman if she could take down the names of eyewitnesses who saw this. The response was: “Don’t tell me what to do. I know my job and we are not going to open a reckless and negligent driving case or drunk driving case because no one died”.

Well versed in the law, Ndaba was baffled.

Someone else then asked the policewoman to take the truck driver for a blood test and she allegedly said: “All of you are not going to tell me what to do.”

Ndaba could not recall what happened to the truck driver next.

She was taken to hospital and no case was opened at the time.

Last Monday, two days after the accident and while she was still in hospital, Ndaba contacted the police station and spoke to the “person in-charge”. The officer confirmed that the station had not opened a case of reckless and negligent driving, she said.

Perturbed by this, she requested his superior’s number and he gave her the number of “Makoba” who turned out to be Pietermaritzburg Cluster Commander Major-General Phumelele Makoba.

Ndaba said Makoba was “shocked and surprised” to hear about what happened and sent an officer to take down her statement.

A case has now been opened, but it may be too late. “I feel so let down. I also feel sorry for other victims. The police didn’t even contact the accident unit. They really failed us and that is why people are killed daily on our roads. Because offenders are not punished at all and they continue to drink and drive,” said Ndaba.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said, after speaking to Makoba, that the accident was considered “minor”.

Despite being told of people were injured, he told The Witness that the information he has was that no one was injured.

He added that when it comes to “minor accidents”, an accident report is taken. Ngobese added there was no need to test the [truck] driver’s blood-alcohol level because the officers at the scene did not suspect him of being under the influence.

“The officers responded adequately. Police followed proper procedure,” he said.

The Witness spoke to two people who were badly injured in the accident. Lucky Hadebe said he spent seven days in hospital and “can barely walk”.

The Witness reported in August that police had refused to attend to an accident scene in the city despite calls by eyewitnesses to 10111.

A car with six occupants allegedly drove through a red robot and rolled several times as it attempted to take the N3 on-ramp towards the Liberty Midlands Mall.

A witness said that when he called 10111 he was told that “because no other cars were involved and no one was killed or injured they could not send police out”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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