The owner of the truck, Mr Hannes Wolmarans, assessed the damage of the overturned truck. Later he had to assist rescue workers, who did not have equipment at the scene, to remove the remains of an employee who was pinned underneath the cab.
Date: 10 November 2017 By: Isabel Venter
The Vhembe District Municipality (VDM) has once again come under scrutiny, following a fatal accident along the Soutpansberg mountain pass.
The remains of the person who passed away in the accident on 19 October, who had been a passenger in the truck, had to be cut loose by the owner of the truck. Local firemen were unable to assist as they simply did not have the necessary equipment with them.
According to the Makhado police, it would seem that the driver of the truck lost control, causing his truck to capsize just before the 60km/h sharp bend in the road near the Ingwe Hotel. The driver was on his way to deliver a load of maize meal to a client in the Tshipise area.
The driver managed to escape the overturned wreckage with only a broken leg. He was later transferred to the Polokwane Provincial Hospital for treatment.
While on the scene, the Zoutpansberger witnessed firemen from the Makhado Fire Station repeatedly asking the owner of the truck, Mr Hannes Wolmarans, for assistance. Neither the firemen nor the police were willing to wait for a towing truck to lift the wrecked cabin. This was despite Wolmarans’ efforts to explain to the police that, in terms of his insurance contract, only one specific company is authorized to tow away the wreck.
In the end, Wolmarans had to assist the firemen with one of his own industrial lifts to drag the body from underneath the wreckage.
This is not the first time that the Makhado Fire Station has struggled with equipment. In 2015, a truck driver pinned under his overturned truck passed away while firemen had to struggle with dilapidated equipment that did not function properly.
The Makhado Fire Station falls under the jurisdiction of the VDM, which is supposed to allocate a certain amount to the station for repairs and maintenance. Getting money paid from this budget to have repairs done is a lengthy process.
Since the accident, the newspaper has been trying to get answers from the VDM to find out if the budget for the Makhado Fire Station has been amended since 2015.
This week, the VDM responded to questions and defended the actions of their firemen. According to VDM spokesperson Mr Ralushai Matodzi, the firemen attended the scene only to assess “the state of the accident.”
Matodzi further added that in the Wolmarans case, it had been acceptable for the firemen to ask for his assistance. According to legislation (Fire Brigade Service Act No 99 of 1987 as amended in 2000) firemen may, whenever it is necessary, in order to perform their duties, order any inhabitant of the republic who is not younger than 16 years and not older than 60 years to assist in the performance of their duties on any particular occasion.
Insofar as it concerns the budget, Matodzi claimed that R700 000 had been set aside to procure new firefighting equipment. “It is correct that the Makhado Fire Station is currently using one set of the Jaws of Life, but the officers on duty are aware that, in the event of another accident, a backup must be requested from other fire stations,” said Matodzi.
Matodzi said that the VDM was also waiting for the delivery of a newly purchased fire truck to “beef up" its vehicle fleet. "The procurement process for new firefighting equipment is in progress,” Matodzi added.
Isabel joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in 2009 as a reporter. She holds a BA Degree in Communication Sciences from the University of South Africa. Her beat is mainly crime and court reporting.