JeVanne Gibbs
2 minute read
19 Sep 2013
6:00 am

Killer crash caused by ‘operator error’

JeVanne Gibbs

Preliminary investigations by truck owner Sagekal logistics into the Pinetown crash have revealed that the collision was caused by "operator error" which resulted in the brake system's failure.

FILE PICTURE: The articulated truck that collided with four fully laden taxis and a light motor vehicle on the corners of Fieldshill (M13) and Richmond Road in Pinetown on 5 September 2013. Picture ER24

A report by IBF Investigations’ forensic collision homicide reconstructionist Stan Bezuidenhout found that the vehicle’s brakes had failed following deterioration due to thermo dynamics.

Bezuidenhout had been assigned to examine the cause of the accident by Sagekal logistics owner Gregory Govender, who made a commitment to keep the media informed of the facts established during investigations by independent experts.

The report stated that no evidence was found that the brake system had been compromised prior to driver Sanele Goodness May’s departure from Durban to Johannesburg on the night of the crash.

“According to our analysis, things ‘went wrong’ approximately 500 metres before the scene of the collision, where May accelerated to over 85km/h and never recovered,” Bezuidenhout said in the report.

“All indications are that Sanele tried to control or limit the speed of the vehicle, loaded to 56 tons, on foot brake application alone.”

He added that a highly skilled driver “with the resolve of a fighter pilot” might then actually know to accelerate the engine and might be able to “force the gears”; however, this was highly unlikely to work on certain vehicles.


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“But this is unlikely to have been possible under the veil of emotion and goal fixation to slow down and brake harder as Sanele would have experienced,” Bezuidenhout continued. “This would have resulted in over-heating of the friction surfaces, a decline in braking ability and a loss of control as he was now no longer in a position to select a lower gear and recover control.”

This followed the deaths of 23 people at the intersection of Richmond Road and the M13 Field’s Hill Road after the truck slammed into four taxis and a car. National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Natasha Ramkisson wouldn’t comment on May’s charges being upgraded from culpable homicide to murder.


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