'I COULD NOT RECOGNISE HER BURNT-OUT BODY'
A man yesterday described his heartache after arriving at an accident scene on the N3 highway to find his friend of 30 years had been burnt beyond recognition.
The pile-up at about 7.30am near the Van Buuren off-ramp also left another woman with serious burn wounds. The accident involved nine vehicles, including two trucks.
Julio Vinkeiras received a call from his wife who works at the same company as Rosa Cabeleira.
A truck crashed into the back of Cabeleira's car, which then smashed into another truck.
Speaking at the scene, Vinkeiras said: "I came to identify and make sure it was Cabeleira.
"When I got here the body was still in the car. It was completely burnt (and) I was not able to recognise her," he said.
Vinkeiras said that when he saw the accident scene for the first time, "I couldn't believe it was true".
According to the Bayliner driver, Cabeleira's Hyundai Electra burst into flames seconds after the crash.
"I lost control of the truck when the car crashed into the truck's rear tyres. After I went into the concrete barriers, I noticed that the car behind me was on fire so I switched off the truck and jumped out to help, but I was hindered by the flames," said Charles Maulana, the driver of the second truck.
Six other cars caught fire.
Maulana had been travelling from Meyerton in the Vaal, where he had left at around 5am and was on his way to Linbro Park in Midrand to deliver metal coils.
He said the truck behind him had bumped the Hyundai from the back and the car in turn crashed into his rear left tyres, causing him to lose control.
According to Ekurhuleni emergency services, Cabeleira was the only fatality but her passenger and colleague, Andreia Pinto, 27, is in an induced coma with very serious burn wounds.
She was helped out of the car by the driver of another car, J Coetzee.
Pinto was rushed to Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg.
Ekurhuleni emergency services spokesperson Rogers Mamaila said that the Bayliner first lost control and the Hyundai crashed into the truck. The other truck then crashed into the Hyundai.
"The second truck driver saw the flames and reversed. He was slightly injured and taken to hospital for treatment. The other motorists refused to be taken to hospital," said Mamaila.
Cabeleira was travelling to work at Elandias Trading in Edenvale, from her home in The Hill, southern Johannesburg. She had collected Pinto from La Rochelle.