Search for Owner of Vehicle at Centre of R44 Horror Crash Continues
Robin Carlisle, the Minister of Transport and Public Works in the Western Cape, has reacted with shock and anger to the latest horror crashes on the N1 and R44, which have so far killed a total of 13 people.
The first, on the N1 near Kraaifontein, involved a taxi and a truck and led to the deaths of five people, while the second, involving two trucks and a Caterpillar 631D, claimed eight lives among a total of 54 casualties.
Provincial Traffic Chief Kenneth Africa has reported to Minister Carlisle that in the second crash the casualties resulted when the bed of a truck transporting farmworkers was ripped off the chassis of the vehicle when it collided with a giant tractor.
The tractor - reported to be a Caterpillar 631D, a kind of earth-moving vehicle with multiple configuration possibilities often used for road-building - was on the Klein Berg River Bridge when the crash occurred.
"It appears that two trucks were approaching the bridge. The first, on seeing the massive earth-moving vehicle on the bridge, was able to brake in time," Minister Carlisle said.
"The second had less time to react, and while swerving to avoid the stopped truck ahead of it, hit the stationary vehicle, then hit the Caterpillar, at which point the bed was ripped off and flung into the river, landing on the bank."
"While we have dealt with far too many cases of unsafe transport of farmworkers in the past, in this case, I am informed that both trucks that were involved in the crash were legally compliant. In fact, had the truck not been compliant, the number of fatalities could have been far higher."
"I am further informed that the owner of this giant tractor then fled the scene, leaving the driver to talk to the police. The tractor is unlicensed, unregistered and, these requirements notwithstanding, it should not have been on the road without an Abnormal Load permit and escort vehicles," said Minister Carlisle.
"I will be following developments around this case very carefully, as it appears to be a classic case of willful negligence on the part of a vehicle owner, and possibly the driver, leading to widespread carnage and suffering."
"The National Prosecuting Authority would be well within their rights to explore murder charges in this case under the dolus eventualis principle. It will also be instructive to establish what the roles of speed and following distance, two major killers on our roads, were in this case."
"In the long run, South Africa has to address the unsafe transport of its farmworkers, labourers, holidaymakers and children on the back of trucks and bakkies. No matter what the law currently states, the basic requirement should be one person, one seat, one seat, one seat belt," Minister Carlisle said.
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