'Crash could have been avoided'

A TARRED road past the country residence of Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele is used by about 20 vehicles a day, a man who lives close by told the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday.

A TARRED road past the country residence of Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele is used by about 20 vehicles a day, a man who lives close by told the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday.

Themba Sibiya, 45, a tractor driver who said he had lived close to the road all his life, was testifying in a case in which Hluphile Zuma, a former chef, lost a hand and part of her forearm in a 2005 taxi accident.

The minibus overturned, apparently when it hit a pothole on the busy road between Tugela Ferry and Keate's Drift in December 2004.

Zuma is suing the KwaZulu-Natal roads department and government for an amount still to be fixed. The department is opposing the claim, arguing that a lack of money precluded more road maintenance and repair.

The 5km of tarred road past Ndebele's property cost about R5,5million to lay in the 2004/5 budget, according to government documents.

Zuma's lawyers argue that the amount used on tarring a lightly used road past Ndebele's property should have been used to maintain the Tugela Ferry-Keate's Drift road.

Earlier evidence indicated that the pothole could have been fixed for about R500 when it was still small.

Sibiya said road signs presumably brought for the tarred road construction were still in their plastic wraps at the scene of the construction.

In August 2005, the Natal Witness reported that local residents questioned why the road past Ndebele's home was tarred before a much busier road close by, which was in a state of bad disrepair. - Sapa

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