IT’S FAR TOO EASY TO JUDGE
By: Tony Manyangadze
We weren’t there in the truck when Sanele May manoeuvred that speeding truck down Field’s Hill. We can assume and try and reconstruct the scene but not many of us have been behind the wheel of a speeding truck that, in the end kills 23 people.
After watching the video for the first time, many would agree that a series of cold eddies rushed up and down their spine. Goosebumps grew firmer and firmer all over, and also tempers skyrocketed. As for the emotional ones, tears uncontrollably rolled down the cheeks and the first thing that visited most people’s minds was the whereabouts and condition of the driver.
The next morning, daily newspapers had tried to piece, mostly fallacious, stories together. Frankly one newspaper even said that Sanele May was from Malawi only to find out May is from Swaziland. Some newspapers even reported that 27 people had lost their lives only to find out it was 22 people then 23. It’s such a shame for real when the supposedly ‘truth tellers’ plant wrong perceptions and conception in the public’s minds. Yes people died, a lot of them too, but is it a reason to be quick to make rushed conclusions?
A lot of things are left in isolation when unfortunate events like these occur. Prevention is said to be always better than cure. Its not the first time an accident has occurred at the same spot and nothing major, action wise, was done about it.
“Field’s Hill is a very dangerous place there has been lots of accidents on the way down. This truck accident has taken 22 lives. Its getting sad that it [had] to get so hectic for people to actually stand up and do something about it,” said Tom van Ores, who was also involved in an accident on the same spot some years ago.
Van Ores is convinced that the road is just a no go place. Recalling his ordeal, he indicated that when you are in that situation; when any vital part of vehicle fails, there is little you can do.
“It was about 6 o’clock at night on Fields Hill, on my way down. The road conditions were quite slippery and wet it had just started raining. Someone pulled up in front of me so I had to swerve a little and my back wheel slipped, my car spun, hit the barrier and then rolled few times. I wasn’t speeding or anything,” recalls van Ores.
It is not clear at this juncture why Sanele took the off ramp. Many still wonder but what ifs are not going to help. We should all try to put ourselves in the shoes of the 23-year-old. Majority would not even try to imagine being in those shoes. But instead, most of us feel comfortable in the judges sit passing judgement on things that we have very little or no knowledge about. Its like when watching a soccer match, and a player misses a penalty kick. You would surely hear suggestions from even those who have never played a ball made from used grocery bag growing up.
Learnmore Manyati, a professional driver, said that a truck is totally different from a small car. He went on further to say that there is also a huge difference between a truck bearing a load to that which is empty. His wealth of experience as a haulage truck driver has taught him that when a truck has a load and is descending, it is the load that determines the speed at which the truck goes. In other words, the load literally pushes the truck.
Given this idea, and also the fact that the truck had allegedly failed, what many options did May had? Lets try to put ourselves in his shoes here and see what we come up with before we struck the hummer on the table and pass a verdict.
Manyati also mentioned that familiarity is also vital as far as driving trucks is concerned. Considering the time May got his drivers license it makes sense to point out that the lack of experience might have contributed. “To an extent, there is a contribution of inexperience, it is highly likely that a well experienced driver in this case would look for something to hit, a tree or ridge but in most cases there will be no option but to try to control the truck,” said Manyati.
Indeed, sitting on your couch in your living room and getting mad after the news at seven is easy. Passing a decree is even easier but let’s challenge ourselves and try something more challenging; let’s try to put ourselves in the shoes of everyone who was involved in that horrific accident. Try and put yourself in the shoes of May before you judge him. Ask yourself what would you have done.
A big salute should go to the citizens who have chosen to see beyond the unplanned mistakes, the ‘what ifs’, and have placed themselves in the shoes of May. It’s such a moving thing to learn that groups of people are now seeing the accident differently after closely looking at most of the facts that we have been furnished with thus far.