Boksburg blast: We have given police, NPA until Friday to enrol the case, says Lesufi

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Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi.
Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi.
Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle
  • The Gauteng government has expressed disappointment with the non-court appearance of the truck driver who allegedly caused the death of 26 people.
  • Premier Panyaza Lesufi has asked that the case be speedily enrolled in court.
  • Lesufi gave the police and National Prosecuting Authority until Friday to enrol the case.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has told the police and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to speedily enrol the case against the driver whose exploding gas tanker allegedly caused the death of 26 people inside and outside Tambo Memorial Hospital.

Lesufi reacted after the police decided not to bring the matter to court because there was insufficient evidence to charge the driver.

The driver was expected to appear in the Boksburg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday but the case did not proceed because it was not placed on the court roll.

The driver was transporting what was believed to be liquid petroleum gas when the blast occurred. 

Addressing the media during his visit to the bereaved families, Lesufi said the death toll had increased from 18 to 26.

"It is with a heavy heart that the driver was released from police custody. I immediately sought an explanation from the police and the NPA. They gave a detailed description.

"They believe that their evidence would be complicated to have the necessary documentation to convince the magistrate to take a decision [to prosecute]. They were only ready with charges of reckless driving and destroying state property.

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"They believe the driver might face a lighter charge. They want to gather the necessary evidence. The owner of the truck is cooperating with the information they need.

"They believe the suspect would appear in court later this week. I have accepted their explanation. They need to move with speed. The families demand answers. It is difficult to postpone our explanation to the bereaved families."

Lesufi said Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela assured him they had strengthened their team of investigators. 

"We want the matter to be properly enrolled in the court. We will continue offering support to the families. South Africans would be disappointed to learn that the only charge that could be taken to court was reckless driving, whereas people lost lives. There is a forensic report that the police are dealing with.

"There is a specific report that would be obtained from the trucking company. The police must analyse the chemical the truck was carrying. There is also a report that would be obtained from engineers.

"The police are tightening their case. We have given them until Friday to enrol the case. We have 26 [dead] bodies. We need more personnel to deal with the case. We are on standby in case there are delays," he added.


"We must provide answers to the families. I am monitoring this case. We have unleashed all relevant resources to assist the police. The company and the driver are cooperating fully. The company has made presentations to me.

"They wanted to play a certain role. They are willing to assist with funerals. They are willing to cooperate with the police. We are not dealing with difficult people.

"The past 48 hours have been extremely difficult. We have started the difficult journey of visiting all the bereaved families. The difficult part was when we visited some of them. Some received the sad news of the passing of their family members in our presence. That made our task extremely difficult.

READ | Boksburg blast: Repairs to Tambo Memorial Hospital to top R18m

"Sadly, the numbers are climbing. They are climbing at an alarming rate. We have agreed that only the numbers verified by the police would be publicised.

"Police have confirmed that we are standing at 26. We have lost 26 people out of the tragedy. It is becoming more difficult by the day. One family want to bury their four deceased loved ones in Malawi. We are making arrangements to take their bodies to Malawi."

Lesufi said the police believed a charge of murder should be the primary charge against the driver.

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