Crash carnage driver buoyed by the kindness of strangers
Tireless supporters stick by Sanele May on fifth anniversary of Pinetown accident that killed 24 people
For the past five years, prisoner Sanele Goodness May has been visited every weekend by a “stranger” who has been supporting him since the truck he was driving wiped out 24 people in a tragic accident.
On Wednesday, September 5 – exactly five years since the 40-ton, 18-wheeler ploughed into four taxis and two cars on Fields Hill, Pinetown – none of the more than 13,000 members of the Sanele May Support Group on Facebook will visit the former truck driver at Umzinto Prison.
“No visits are allowed in the week,” the group’s founder, Peach Piche, told Times Select.
Piche explained that May, who is serving an eight-year sentence for the deadly crash, is visited weekly by members of his support group.“He is doing incredibly well and I will be visiting this weekend as the anniversary of the accident is always a tough week for him.”
When May first appeared in court in 2013 shortly after the crash, strangers from as far as Johannesburg packed the courtroom and were moved to tears at the first sight of the then 23-year-old man.
Within days the online group grew to more than 10,000 members from 18 countries.
Piche said on Tuesday the group was still active because they were committed to justice for May.“The group is made up of wonderful human beings who have remained committed and loyal to both Sanele and the injustice, especially that the owner of the truck got a slap on the wrist with a fine given the unroadworthiness of the truck,” she said.
In 2017, Gregory Govender, the owner of Sagekal Logistics, was fined R2,000 for failing to maintain a roadworthy vehicle, and R5,000 for hiring May, who was not eligible to work in the country.
Throughout his trial May maintained that the truck’s brakes failed before it hit the vehicles.
However, he begged forgiveness from the victim’s families, despite them not blaming him for the crash.
Thembisa Nompula, who lost her 22-year-old sister Nombifuthi in the crash, said on Tuesday she still did not blame May.
“We can’t blame him as accidents are not planned. He did not plan for it to happen,” she said.
The two sisters usually travelled together, but on September 5 2013, Nompulo finished work early.“I would have been with my sister in that taxi. [She] was a bubbly, beautiful person, who had so much potential. She was doing environmental studies.
“We have learned to adjust to living without her. We still miss her every day but it’s been five years and we are doing much better,” Nompulo said.
While other victims’ families have visited May in prison, Nompulo hasn’t.
“Maybe one day I will because I don’t see anything wrong with visiting him. But for now I haven’t. I will when I am ready to,” she said.