Driver dies as truck crashes into SAPS living quarters

A cement truck crashed into the Somerset Street, Makhanda, barracks of the South African Police Service around 9.45am Saturday March 9. SAPS spokesperson Captain Marius McCarthy said the driver, a 43-year-old man, was declared dead on the scene. The truck belongs to a Gqeberha based construction company.

People who had been on the scene at the time of the incident told Talk of the Town that despite the damage to the building, no one inside the house had been seriously injured.

Residents of the house, who are all either members or general workers at the South African Police Service in Makhanda, sat outside, hoping to be able to retrieve at least some of their belongings from the wreckage. The buildings house SAPS personnel.

FOrtunately the couple whose bedroom this is were not in it at the time the truck crashed into it. Picture: SUE MACLENNAN

Everyone who spoke to Talk of the Town asked for their names not to be published.

Fortunately the couple whose bedroom the truck crashed into were out at the time.

“That’s my bedroom right there,” said a woman who was still visibly shaken, pointing to the room that the truck had crashed into and destroyed. “Imagine if this had happened at night, and we were sleeping in there.”

The father of a 13-year-old boy who had been in the yard at the time said his son had suffered minor injuries.

Another resident said her bedroom was across the passage from where the truck came to a stop.

“I had put something on the stove to cook and was in the bath when I heard the crash,” she said. “I thought the stove had exploded.

“Then I went to look and just saw dust everywhere.”

A resident of an adjoining unit said he’d been doing his washing outside in the yard when he heard the crash.

“I didn’t hear any other sound – no brakes nothing, just that noise was so loud you won’t believe it.”

He and others ran to the gate of the property to see what had happened.

“All we could see was dust, and electrical sparks.”

The truck crashed into the electrical distribution box in front of the building and “everything” was live.

“I wanted to open the [metal] gate but even that had sparks coming from it, so I pushed it with my foot (he was wearing shoes).

“There were people gathering outside and just lots and lots of dust.”

It appeared that the truck’s brakes had failed while coming down the very steep Lucas Avenue that connnects the N2 to Somerset Street via the Monument.

Police were guarding the site and at 2pm, a representative of a local towing company said they were waiting for the large towing rig to arrive from Gqeberha.

McCarthy said Makhanda detectives were investigating a case of culpable homicide.

*Article updated 3/10/2024 to include police comment as well as change to estimated time of the incident (9.45am instead of 10am).