Killer truck's driver 'a victim'

Nivashni Nair

FAMILIES of the 22 people killed in last week's horror collision in KwaZulu-Natal believe the truck driver is also a victim. Sanele Goodness May, 23, of Swaziland, has been charged with 22 counts of murder after the articulated truck he was driving wiped out a car and four taxis full of passengers on the corner of Field's Hill and Richmond roads in Pinetown a week ago.

The truck's brakes apparently failed before it hit the vehicles.

KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC Willies Mchunu told hundreds of people at a memorial service that the company was brave to send out its driver in a vehicle which the owner was allegedly fully aware was not roadworthy.

Mchunu said investigators would probe how May had obtained his licence in Swaziland. However, the initial investigation showed that his licence was valid.

The collision shocked South Africans as details of flattened vehicles and bloodied victims emerged through a graphic video and photos.

"My heart is also sore for him. The company that employed him should be punished, not the driver," Steven Mokuatle said yesterday.

Mokautle's mother, domestic worker Elizabeth, 52, was a passenger in one of the taxis.

"When I arrived at the scene, it was so bad. I thought: 'This is not my mother. Where is my beautiful mother?'

"I still can't believe she is dead. My nine- year-old brother can't understand what has happened," Mokuatle said.

Thembisa Nompula lost her sister, Nombifuthi, 22. "But we can't blame the driver. Everyone needs a job and just like everyone else coming home in those taxis, he needed his job. He was in a difficult position. I don't think he could have told his boss he didn't want to drive an unroadworthy truck," she said.

Nompula said the company, Sagekal Logistics, did not "have the decency to even meet us", and asked: "Why has someone not come to the families to try to comfort us?"

The two sisters usually travelled together but last Thursday, Nompulo finished work early. "I would have been with my sister in that taxi. [She] was a bubbly, beautiful person, who had so much potential. She was doing environmental studies," she said.

Joseph Dlamini's brothers, Sibonelo, 30, and Simon, 25, died instantly. He said: "Nothing can bring them back, but I want answers from the truck company. They let this happen."

Dlamini said the growing support and sympathy for May on social networks was justified. "I feel sorry for him. He did not do this deliberately. We will hear his side in court, but when will we hear the company's side?"

Sagekal has scheduled a media briefing for Monday to address the allegations against May and the company, and to release the preliminary report from its internal investigation.