Pongola carnage: acting judge to defend truck driver

Truck driver 28-year-old Sibusiso Siyaya in court.

Truck driver 28-year-old Sibusiso Siyaya in court.

Published Apr 8, 2024


Durban — When the trial of a truck driver facing 20 murder charges relating to a crash that happened in Pongola in 2022 begins on April 15, he will be represented by Acting Judge Pregasen Marimuthu.

This emerged on Thursday at the Durban High Court where the pre-trial conference for 28-year-old Sibusiso Siyaya was held prior to the matter being rolled over to Friday to be heard in Chambers by Judge Jacqueline Henriques.

Marimuthu – who is also a Legal Aid high court unit manager – told the court he would be representing Siyaya and said a representative had gone to Ncome prison to consult with the accused and would provide a full update.

Siyaya is also charged with reckless and negligent driving and failing to perform the duties of a driver after an accident.

According to the indictment, Siyaya was employed as a heavy motor vehicle driver by Perry Masinga on behalf of BaoBao Projects, a company that transported coal from Mpumalanga to the Richards Bay coal terminal in KZN.

It is alleged that on September 16, 2022, Siyaya collected 34 tons of coal in Mpumalanga which was to be hauled to KZN by an Oaf mechanical horse and two side tipper trailers.

The State alleges: “En route, he experienced a mechanical issue with his rear trailer brake which he attended to in Piet Retief and thereafter proceeded on the N2 towards Richards Bay via the ltshelejuba Pass.

“Before descending the ltshelejuba Pass, the accused ignored a mandatory stop for heavy motor vehicles where he was obliged to stop and engage a low gear prior to continuing with his journey descending the pass.

“Whilst driving down the pass, the accused drove recklessly and overtook several vehicles over the double barrier centre median and on to the oncoming lane. The accused continued to accelerate and overtake more vehicles, causing oncoming vehicles to take evasive action to avoid a collision with his vehicle.”

The deceased – 18 pupils, a driver, and a teacher – were all travelling in a Toyota light delivery vehicle (LDV) in the oncoming lane with 19-year-old Lethukuthula Sphephelo Nkonyane, an unlicensed driver, at the wheel.

“The accused’s vehicle and the LDV collided head-on. All 20 occupants of the LDV were fatally injured.”

Those who died included children from the Ntshangase household. They were Minenhle Anginavalo, 7, Nothando Ningabesabi, 8, and Thembelihle Prince, 11, as well as children from the Simelane household, 5-year-old Thingo and 6-year-old Nkululeko as well as 10-year-old Alwande.

Sgcino Philasande, 6, and 14-year-old Mduduzi from the Nkonyane family were also killed.

The other children who died were Bandile Snenhlanhla Nyawo, 11, Asanda Paris Mhlongo, 14, Lwandle Mpilonhle Nkonde, 6, Kusekuhle Lizongathi Goba, 5, Junior Amile Thikazi, 6, Siyanda Nkosinathi Mlangeni, 13, and Mpilenhle Obenathi Makhangeza, 7.

The children were on their way home from school and teacher Zinhle Florence Mkhize, 28, who was travelling with them, also died.

Siyaya had initially abandoned his bail application following his arrest, but when he applied for bail a year later, was unsuccessful. He has been in custody since his arrest.

Siyaya will be tried in the Pongola Magistrate’s Court.

Senior State Prosecutor advocate Krishen Shah will appear for the State.

Sunday Tribune