5 February 2018

South Africa: Pietermaritzburg Community Waiting Since 2013 for Guard Rails On Deadly Road

Ward councillor says he has "sent a letter" and can do nothing more

Residents of Nhlazatshe in Pietermaritzburg have been asking for guard rails on their road since the death of a three-year-old child in 2013 when a heavy vehicle crashed into a house. But their ward councillor says he has "sent a letter" to the municipality and can't do much more.

In February 2013, Wandile Ngcobo died when a road grader crashed into her house. Her cousins, Anele and Alondwe Mdlalose, were badly injured. The accident left Alondwe disabled, according to her mother, Hlengiwe Mdlalose.

Resident Samkelo Gasa said speed bumps had been put in after the 2013 crash but this was not enough. Residents want guard rails. "We live beside the road and we are always on the alert," said Gasa.

In November 2017, a bus carrying mourners to a funeral at a nearby graveyard crashed into Sabelo Khumalo's home, destroying it.

His sister Kholeka Khumalo said the bus had been parked on the upper side of the road and had started rolling down the road with passengers inside but without a driver. "The driver rushed into the bus. He tried to stop it, but he couldn't. It hit the house. My brother had gone to wash his hands. That is how he survived. If he had been inside he would have died," said Kholeka.

She said some passengers were injured.

"The house was demolished and all the furniture. We have reported the matter to the ward councillor, Sipho Madonda. We have sent requests for guard rails to his office. There has been no response," said Kholeka.

Hlengiwe said the first request to the councillor had been in 2013 after the death of Wandile.

"I can still hear the sound of the grader like it was yesterday. The driver lost control and hit our house. Our neighbour's house was also demolished. Wandile was taking a bath at the time. The grader knocked her and shoved her under the walls. Alondwe and Anele were hit. Their father also sustained injuries. My son attends a special school because of that accident," said Hlengiwe.

When GroundUp spoke to Madonda, he said he had sent a request letter to the Msunduzi municipality. Madonda said it is up to the officials to respond. He told GroundUp to contact the municipality. "As ward councillor I have played my role. I have sent a letter to the municipality. So far they have not responded to my request. There is nothing I can do but wait for them. It is out of my control," said Madonda.

GroundUp sent Msunduzi municipality a list of questions but received a one-line response. Spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said technicians had arranged a site meeting with the ward councillor to conduct an assessment of the area. "Should the areas warrant guardrails, they will be included in our priority list to be implemented," said Mafumbatha.

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