N12 crash: Truck driver’s criminal record under scrutiny

Prosecutors now want to verify whether the truck driver’s previous offence is related to another accident.

Emergency vehicles and people stand on the scene of a horrific accident on the N12 East after a truck swept several cars after failing to stop on 14 October 2014. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The driver of the truck that killed four people in an accident on the N12 this week had previously served 18 months in prison for culpable homicide and state prosecutors say they now want to verify if he committed the same offence.

Isaac Maruding appeared in the Palm Ridge Court for the first time on Thursday, on charges of culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving.

The matter was postponed until next week.

Four people were killed and 16 others injured when his articulated truck ploughed through 49 vehicles during peak time traffic.

Maruding was sentenced to 18 months in jail in 1999 after already receiving a suspended sentence two years earlier and state prosecutors say they want to verify if this was due to another accident.

The court also heard that Maruding had been arrested at his home in Viljoenskroon in the Free State, raising suspicion that he fled the scene after the collision.

Survivors have described angry motorists trying to attack the truck driver and police having to intervene.

The state was granted a postponement to verify the 44-year-olds details, but also to determine if any additional charges can be laid.

While it's still unclear if the owners of the truck will face criminal charges, it has emerged that the MEC for transport has the power to revoke the company's license or close it.

Editor of FleetWatch Magazine Patrick O'Leary says the Road Traffic Management Corporation Act does not refer to criminal charges but it does prescribe other action.

"It empowers the MEC to take action against the operator and actually cancel the operator's licence."

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has also raised concerns about truck drivers shouldering the blame.

Spokesman Patrick Craven says, "The employers must also share in the responsibility and take strong action against theirs breaking the law."

Benusi Cargo Carriers has not responded to media queries since the accident happened and yesterday withdrew its legal support for the truck driver who remains behind bars.