17 June 2004
Former Sappi worker says car’s tyres led to crash that left him with brain damage
People living in Gill Road, Table View, allege that a Table View policeman was reluctant to arrest a woman they say caused an accident on Sunday June 6 about 5.40pm while driving under the influence of alcohol.
Following public intervention, the 51 year old woman was eventually taken into custody and kept overnight at Table View police station.
She appeared in court on Monday June 7 on charges of drunken driving. She was not asked to plead. Bail was not set and she was released on her own cognisance.
A court date was set for July 6. Allegations are that the woman drove her car into the back of a parked white Mazda – sending it spinning more than 30 metres. Cheryl Clark, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of the parked car, was severely shaken up by the incident and had bruises and some whiplash.
Mervyn Holt, who lives in Gardens, Cape Town, is a family friend of the Clarks. He had been trying to assist Mrs Clark with problems she was having with her car. They had been test – driving the vehicle and had stopped to make some adjustments in the boot.
Mr Holt was standing at the back of the vehicle when the woman’s car crashed into it. He had a fractured arm and grazes to his leg.
According to Gill Road residents who came out after hearing sounds of the crash, police arrived on the scene only some 45 minutes later – and only after residents had called the station several times to report a drunken driving incident. Residents said paramedics and tow trucks were on the scene before the police arrived.
Resident of Gill Road Arlene Randall alleged that the woman “reeked of alcohol” and did not even know what road she was in, or that she had crashed into another car.
“The driver said she had swerved to avoid a man that had just walked into the road. She said she thought she was in Gie Road. Her speech was slurred and she was walking like a drunk. Mr Holt is lucky to be alive,” said Mrs Randall who is a nurse.
Mr Holt said that when he was lying at the side of the road about 15 minutes after the accident, the woman came over to him and asked how he was feeling.
“She reeked of booze. I told her that I would be alright, but asked her to please not to breathe over me,” said Mr Holt.
People at the scene said the policeman at the accident scene, Inspector Harry Kidd-Anderson of Table View police station, was reluctant to arrest the woman or to take her for blood alcohol tests.
Mrs Randall alleges that when people asked Inspector Kidd – Anderson to take the driver for a blood test he said: “You interfering people should mind your own business and if you don’t I will be forced to arrest you.”
Mrs Randall believes the reason for Inspector Kidd – Anderson’s reluctance to arrest the woman rose from the fact that he was acquainted with her son, believed to be a paramedic and who arrived at the scene after she called him on her cell phone.
“When the paramedic arrived at Gill Road in his private vehicle, he overtook tow trucks to get to the scene first. Even the tow truck drivers commented at the speed at which he drove. Onlookers were angry about his reckless driving,” said Mrs Randall.
Mark Wessels, a professional photographer who took photographs at the scene, said there were dozens of men, women and children milling around.
“The man drove like a maniac in the oncoming lane, overtaking speeding tow trucks. It was totally irresponsible; my own four- year old was there. I wanted to lay a charge of reckless driving, “Mr Wessels alleged. .
Mr Holt says his wife Elinore was within earshot when Inspector Kidd – Anderson took Mrs Clark aside and heard him tell her that if she laid a charge and the woman was taken for blood tests and found to be over the legal alcohol limit, any claims Mrs Clark might make against her insurance company for damage to her vehicle would fail. Mrs Clark said she is a single parent and needs the use of a car. She says her car is a write – off and she can ill afford to buy another.
Mrs Randall says the woman was only arrested following a bystander’s calls to the 10111 emergency numbers. “These 10111 calls gave rise to a direct order from a superior officer to Inspector Kidd – Anderson that she should be arrested and taken for blood tests,” said Mrs Randall.
Captain Siebrits of Table View police station said blood tests were not carried out because the station’s kits were found to be out of date. He said the woman was not taken to the district surgeon for testing because it would be more than two hours after the incident by the time the tests were done and that would make the tests defective. Captain Siebrits said there would be an internal investigation into the matter.
According to another police spokesperson who asked not to be named, it is not necessary for blood tests to be carried out for proof of drunken driving and that a testimony by a policeman in court can suffice.
Tabletalk tried to give Inspector Kidd – Anderson an opportunity to comment but communications officer for Table View police station Inspector Bernadine Steyn said he would not be able to comment because of the internal inquiry.
Tabletalk also tried to contact the woman driver but could not get her details. We asked those who had them to pass on Tabletalk’s number to the woman so that if she wished to give her side of the story, she could not call us – but at the time of going to press, she has not done so.