Durban – Acting KZN Premier Nomagugu Simelane has called for the driver implicated in a truck crash that claimed the lives of 20 people in KwaZulu-Natal last week, to be charged with murder.
Simelane said upon inspecting the accident scene and receiving a technical briefing on what might have been the cause of accident, government officials were convinced that the driver’s actions were tantamount to murder and the driver should be charged as such.
“We need to teach others a lesson through him. Families will never ever be able to see their children and he too must languish in jail. We will leave that to the courts but it should not be a culpable homicide,” she said.
Truck driver, Sibusiso Siyaya, 28, has since appeared in the Phongola Magistrate’s Court on charges of culpable homicide.
Spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority in KZN, Natasha Ramkisson-Kara, said the matter was remanded to September 26 for bail application.
While calls have been made for stricter regulations around truck driving on the country’s roads, the Road Traffic Inspectorate Corporation has warned truck owners that they can be held liable for their drivers’ behaviour on the road.
“Truck owners are further warned that they could lose the right to operate on national roads which would have dire consequences for their businesses. Failure by operators to properly carry out their responsibilities as imposed by the National Traffic Act could lead to conviction and sentence,” said RTMC spokesperson, Simon Zwane.
Meanwhile, CEO of the Road Freight Association, Gavin Kelly, said there were many factors behind these crashes including how the driver performed his or her task, stress and depression from personal matters, employer pressure, illness and criminal intent.
“There are also external factors relating to the condition of the road, weather and vehicle failures and or equipment problems. Each and every crash needs to be thoroughly reviewed to ascertain what the root cause was,” Kelly said.
He said once these were established, they needed to be removed or prevented as best possible.
“Operators need to implement operations management tools to record and review all incidents and crashes that occur even near-misses or non-fatal ones, as these are the precursors to more serious or tragic events. On-board telematics and cameras have gone a long way to showing what happened – and in many cases exonerated drivers when incidents occur,” Kelly said.
He said all routes needed to be routinely assessed by a company that sends drivers on these roads, in day and night conditions.