Lack of cameras hampers probe into deaths of Joburg mayor and two others
The last moments of the lives of Johannesburg mayor Jolidee Matongo, electrician Sagel Singh and an unidentified pedestrian remain a mystery as investigators face a monumental task to establish the cause of the crash in which they died two weeks ago.
Frustrating police in their investigation is an apparent lack of surveillance cameras along the stretch of the Golden Highway in Soweto where the accident happened.
Singh and Matongo were returning in separate vehicles to their homes in Lenasia South when the collision occurred. A pedestrian was also killed.
There were killed in the crash in which Johannesburg mayor Jolidee Matongo died
Singh, 23, was heading home after dropping off staff at a petrol station in Eikenhof, southwest of Johannesburg, while Matongo, 46, was returning from an electioneering event in Soweto with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Though cameras are mounted on some parts of the highway, the area where the crash occurred apparently does not have any. A City of Johannesburg security official, who asked not to be named, said this was making the investigation difficult.
“The bodyguards who were with the mayor, who are the only survivors, are still in hospital. Cameras would have made a big difference in understanding what happened,” said the official.
“Investigators from the South African Police Service and Johannesburg Metro Police are trying to find any civilian-owned or private security company CCTV cameras which could help piece the crash together. They are looking for cameras not only in the area where the crash happened, but also other areas and suburbs around the highway.”
Johannesburg Metro Police spokesperson Wayne Minnaar referred questions to the SAPS. Gauteng police spokesperson Brig Brenda Muridili declined to discuss the investigation, “which is ongoing”.
She said the pedestrian had not yet been identified. “His fingerprints have been obtained and sent to the forensic science laboratory for identification.”
Singh’s father, Satish Singh, said the family had contacted the police for information, but without much luck. “I doubt whether we will be given access to the investigation report and its findings.”
Singh said the family wanted to see the report into the crash, “not to apportion blame, because that will not bring our son back, but just to know the truth”.
He said through till slips and banking records he had ascertained where Singh was shortly before the crash.
“We know Sagel stopped at an Eikenhof petrol station to drop off his workers, who were helping his brother on a maintenance project.
“At 6.54pm he was at the petrol station buying a packet of cigarettes and a bottle of Mountain Dew cooldrink. He then heads home. That is the last information we have on his movements until the accident at around 7.30pm.”
Forensic engineer Konrad Lotter said investigating road accidents could be complex. “Finding the cause can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. CCTV footage can be crucial. Video analysis, which involves breaking down the footage frame by frame, can help determine aspects such as speed.”