Durban – Police are investigating if illegal drag racing had caused the death of three people when two cars collided on Umgeni Road on Saturday night.
A Ford Focus ST and VW Polo collided at the Umgeni and Alpine roads intersection.
The VW had two men and two women inside. One of the men died at the scene while the two women died in hospital.
The Ford’s occupants were a 15-year-old boy and a man, both of whom were admitted to hospital. Both cars were travelling towards Durban.
Ceron Lennox, Rescue Care paramedics spokesperson, said it was a T-bone collision.
She said when paramedics arrived, the VW was still on the road.
The Ford ST had left the road and landed in a storm water culvert, 10m below road level, alongside Umgeni Road.
“The SAPS search and rescue used a hoist rescue system to bring the two injured people to road level,” Lennox said.
Police have not yet released the names of those involved in the crash.
Charlene David, a Quarry Road resident, posted on Facebook that she heard a bang and glass shattering.
She ran to the scene, but could not get to the person who was at the bottom of the culvert, stuck in the car, asking for help.
Rivaaj Ramdas, of the Tactical Shooting Team, said he arrived at the scene to find engine and car parts strewn on the road.
“Sadly, speed played a role in this tragedy. On impact, one of the vehicle’s engine and gearbox came off and was on the road,” he said.
There are at least four popular drag racing spots where robot-to-robot races take place:
- The Umgeni Road stretch between Electron Road and Intersite Avenue /Alpine intersection.
- The back stretch in Springfield Park along Inanda Road.
- Chris Hani (North Coast) Road between the N2 and Rinaldo Road.
- Behind King Shaka International Airport on a link road to Watson Highway in oThongathi.
Metro Police spokesperson Parboo Sewpersad said Umgeni Road was a notorious drag racing stretch.
“It is becoming a serious issue. When we get drag racing complaints, we act accordingly. We have operational plans in place to clamp down on illegal drag racing, but these cannot be divulged.”
KwaZulu-Natal Motor Racing chairman Kas Moodley said street racing was illegal and irresponsible, but it seemed that law enforcement agencies had insufficient resources to stop it.
“Even if they do, the illegal street racers return after a couple of months. The alternative that KZN Motor Racing has been pushing for more than a decade is to provide a suitable alternative where street racers can pursue their passion in a structured and controlled environment,” he said.
Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane, a police spokesperson, said the cause of the collision was still under investigation.
A case of culpable homicide was opened at Mayville police station.
The Daily News asked racing enthusiasts on the Drag Racing Durban Facebook page for their opinion on having a legal street track.
Simon Maple: “The government will never fund it so what’s the point in even asking these questions? It took someone to buy farms and build their own racetrack to get KZN’s first track. There’s no space in Durban to have a track and if the fools continue to race illegally and kill each other, it’s even more out of the question.”
Zaheer Hanif: “I think all those questions have been asked before. It’s not something our municipality is interested in.”
Nevan Ramdas: “It would definitely curb the illegal racing. But I doubt it would bring it to an end.”
Damian Biggar: “Won’t win with any municipality – they only recognise soccer and rugby as sports.”
Ashley Reddy: “They cannot even fund our government hospitals, how they gonna fund a venue for drag racing?”
Bruce Hamilton Peters: “It’s a pity the old Durban International Airport is too expensive to use. That runway would be perfect.”