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Pongola truck driver who killed 18 learners sentenced to 20 years

The KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pongola has sentenced truck driver Sibusiso Siyaya to 20 years of direct imprisonment. 

On Monday, the court convicted Siyaya on 20 counts of murder, as well as reckless and negligent driving and failure to perform the duties of a driver after an accident. 

Siyaya’s truck collided with a bakkie ferrying 20 passengers comprising 18 children. The head-on collision killed all the occupants of the motor vehicle. Siyaya fled the scene after the collision and handed himself over to police the next day.

PONGOLA TRUCK DRIVER SENTENCED 

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Siyaya was employed as a heavy motor vehicle driver for a company that transported coal from Mpumalanga to the Richards Bay coal terminal in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) for export. 

During his employment, he used the N2 to travel between the Mpumalanga and KZN mines via the Itshelejuba Pass in Pongola.

On 16 September 2022, he collected a load of coal in Mpumalanga and approached the coal terminal in Richards Bay. 

En route, Siyaya drove recklessly and often overtook several vehicles over the double barrier centre median and onto the oncoming lane, causing oncoming cars to take evasive action to avoid a collision with his vehicle.

While driving on the oncoming lane, Siyaya collided with a motor vehicle carrying 20 passengers. All the occupants died. 

Pongola truck driver
Pongola truck driver Sibusiso Siyaya in court. Image: X/ Dasen Thathiah

NPA spokesperson in KZN Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said the state led the evidence of 12 witnesses, relying on the testimonies of three expert witnesses. The evidence included onboard CCTV footage and GPS evidence, encompassing both technical and mechanical evidence. 

Ramkisson-Kara said in the victim impact statement, the families of the deceased mentioned their lives were devastated following the incident. 

“One woman mentioned that all her children were on board the motor vehicle on the day of the accident, and she has thus lost all her children. Another woman mentioned that she lost three of her children who were travelling to school on the day of the accident. The family members spoke of unresolved pain and deep emotional scars,” Ramkisson-Kara said. 

SENTENCES TO RUN CONCURRENTLY 

The NPA said since the court found that the murder counts occurred in one single act, Siyaya was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for the murders (all taken as one for sentencing). He was further sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for reckless and negligent driving and six years’ imprisonment for failure to perform the duties of a driver after an accident. 

“The court ordered that the sentences for reckless and negligent driving and failure to perform the duties of a driver run concurrently, resulting in the effective sentence of 20 years imprisonment. Further, his driver’s licence was cancelled,” Ramkisson-Kara explained. 

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