Shorné Bennie
journalist
5 minute read
1 Jul 2022
09:01

Updated | Lucky escape for Pietermaritzburg family after truck crashes into their home

Shorné Bennie

A Boughton family had a close call with a runaway truck this week.

A Boughton family had a close call with a runaway truck this week.

If it weren’t for delays in leaving a holiday programme at a church, Bright Saurombe fears his wife and two children could have been crushed by the 24-wheeler truck that plowed into his Boughton home on Wednesday afternoon.

“My wife and children were supposed to arrive home at that time, but thank God they were delayed at a church holiday programme, otherwise they would have probably parked in the exact spot the truck hit,” Saurombe said, adding that it was the first thing he thought of when his neighbour phoned him with the news.

“I had already had a few misfortunes this week, so when I got the call, I was shaken. I tried to call my wife a few times and she did not answer. I rushed home. I just wanted to get to my family,” said the distraught Saurombe.

While speaking to The Witness, Saurombe was watching the tow truck company recover the runaway truck that destroyed his property wall and crashed into his house, after allegedly losing its brakes down Sweetwaters Road.

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He said he had just got home and was still assessing the damage, but from what he had seen, already there was extensive damage to the inside and outside of his house.

“I can see the whole carport has been damaged, the staircase, balustrades, rooms downstairs as well as the electricity meter box, are all damaged, and I can see that we may need to call in a structural engineer to check the damage as this just looks terrible,” said Saurombe.

By the time the truck wreckage was removed, Saurombe feared that it may not be safe for the family to stay in the house. He said his family had moved to their Linwood Drive home in 2017, and he has many treasured memories of the house.

A driver travelling behind the 24-wheeler witnessed the truck lose its brakes down the winding Sweetwaters Road, and suddenly “disappear” around the bend. Gerry van Zyl said he was thankful that he was behind the truck as he watched it whizz around the corners at a phenomenal speed, with smoke coming from its tyres.

“I had my wife and grandchildren travelling with me. I am just thankful we were travelling behind it.

“It was a heavily-laden truck, and as it went down the hill, it just went faster and faster.

“We could smell the brakes burning and there was smoke coming from the tyres. I told my wife, ‘this truck is not going to make it’, as it moved faster down the road. Then, suddenly, it went around a corner and we did not see it.”

Van Zyl, who had been trailing it from the Hilton Police Station, said when he passed Msunduzi Hospice in Prestbury, the truck was nowhere to be seen.

“We passed the police station and still did not see the truck. We wondered were it could have disappeared to, and then we heard the reports that it had plowed into the Linwood Drive property.”

He added that he is now cautious when travelling down Sweetwaters Road.

“My advice is not to travel in front of trucks and to plan travelling times and routes carefully, especially with the numerous roadworks and closures that occur,” said Van Zyl.

Saurombe added that Sanral needs to do something soon, as he is now the victim of the disaster that was waiting to happen. This follows the continued mayhem and traffic congestion caused by the roadworks along the Town Hill section of the N3.

Over the past week, Hilton and Old Howick Road residents and commuters have been raising concerns over the high volume of trucks that are diverting from the N3 and using the alternative routes.

This week, the Hilton Community in Blue (CIB) volunteers and members of other Community Policing Forums in the vicinity, have been actively trying to stop trucks from using Old Howick and Sweetwaters roads as alternative routes at night, fearing an accident down the sharp, bending corners, as well as the damage these heavy vehicles have on the already crumbling road infrastructure.

“This has been ongoing now; we see trucks coming down this way as they cannot use the N3. An accident like this could have ended in death. I am so thankful that my family was not at home at the time. Those responsible must do something fast,” Saurombe said.

He added that he was thankful for the hospitality of his neighbours and community, who are offering him assistance. Kaitlin Mornet, who has grown up at her Linwood Road home, said this is the fourth incident where a vehicle has crashed into that exact property in the past 28 years that she has lived there.

She said residents now fear travelling that road, especially with heavy trucks now illegally using the back road into town, as anything can happen.

“What if there had been children playing inside that yard? We travel to and from our homes on this route every day; what if something happens while we are on the road, or in our yards? That truck hit the exact place those residents park their cars. Even in our yards, we’re not safe from trucks,” she said.

Questioning why the truck was travelling down Sweetwaters Road in the first place, she added that even the speed humps on Sweetwaters Road cannot slow the trucks down.

“We need more traffic police visibility on this road so that they can enforce rules and ensure that the community and motorists are safe.”

Mornet

Midlands EMS services who attended to the scene, said the truck driver lost control of the truck while going downhill. The driver and passenger of the truck were transported to Northdale Hospital and treated for moderate injuries.