'The truck ran over the vehicle and me'

Survivors of this week’s horror smash in Flagstaff were still in shock on Wednesday after a runaway truck cut a swathe of destruction through the town, killing five and injuring at least 13 people.

Speaking from his bed in the St Elizabeth hospital in Lusikisiki, Mphikelwa Mgoduka (46), a father of four, said he still cannot believe that he survived.

Mgoduka, who works for a bakery in Lusikisiki, was sitting in the bakery vehicle when it was hit when the unlicensed articulated truck carrying sweets careered out of control.

“I was still waiting for the driver of our vehicle to come back when I saw people running frantically,” Mgoduka told the Daily Dispatch.

“I tried to jump out of [our] vehicle and run when I saw the truck approaching at a high speed, but it was too late because the last thing I [remember] was the huge bang, and I woke up here in hospital,” Mgoduka said.

Mgoduka suffered serious injuries on his back, ribs and head, according to nurses at the hospital.

Also in the hospital was bus conductor Gugulethu Ngqumba (24), from Holly Cross Location near Flagstaff, who said he only saw the speeding truck pushing cars coming in his direction.

“When I tried to run away, one vehicle flew [towards] me and its panel trapped my two legs. The truck then ran over the vehicle and me. I do not know how it did not hit my upper body,” said Ngqumba.

Both his legs were broken.

Only one other patient is still in hospital. The others were all discharged.

Meanwhile, in the town many of the hawkers and pedestrians who were fortunate enough to get out of the way of the truck in time said they still have “vivid and disturbing” images of Tuesday’s accident on their minds.

Nyangayezizwe Mabhoza, a street vendor whose stall is only a few metres from where the truck crashed into a shop and finally came to a halt said “a bang sound or a car hooter still makes me run for cover”.

Another street vendor, whose stall was next to that of Thembisa Tsheme—one of the hawkers who was killed—said she struggles to sleep after witnessing the horrific accident.

“I had to pray for more than three times to get some sleep, because the accident was repeating itself in my mind. When I close my eyes, it is like I am watching the whole thing on TV,” she said.

Qaukeni acting municipal manager Khayalethu Gashe announced on Wednesday that the municipality, in conjunction with Qaukeni Council of Churches, will hold the memorial service after all the accident fatalities have been identified.

Two out of the five people killed have not yet been identified by relatives.—Sapa

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