Crash victims on the R300 freeway are being targeted by criminals and some say the accidents were caused deliberately.
Paramedics have told the Cape Times that injured motorists are robbed and their cars stripped.
In one of the most extreme cases, 27-year-old Claudia Dalias swerved to avoid a pedestrian, was flung through her car’s windscreen and while she was lying seriously injured, scores of looters emptied her car of all her belongings and stole parts of it.
Both Dalias’s legs were crushed, both lungs were punctured, she had broken ribs, a 15cm cut across her scalp and a 6cm gash on her face.
She believes her accident was intentionally caused so that she could be robbed.
Last week, speaking minutes after standing up for the first time with a prosthetic leg and taking her first few steps since the December 2 crash, Dalias had this warning to motorists planning to use the R300: “Avoid it as much as possible.”
She said the accident had made her determined to try to improve road safety and hoped speaking out would prevent similar incidents occurring.
Police who were at the accident scene told Dalias that more than 50 people had stormed her car after the crash.
“A detective did say he knows they do it on purpose, especially over the Christmas season,” she said.
Five years ago the R300, which is about 15km long and is a major link between the N1 and N2, was named the most dangerous road by metro police because of the high accident and crime rate.
It is still a crime hot spot.
Provincial traffic spokesman Jacques Mostert told the Cape Times the R300 was dangerous.
Asked whe ther accidents had been intentionally caused by criminals, he responded: “We have claims; however (we) cannot verify that this is the actual cause for accidents.”
Police spokesman Andre Traut said criminals would use any means to stop a car.
On Monday, mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said that based on CCTV footage from cameras along the R300, he had not spotted any crime trends.
But he said isolated incidents could occur.
At least three paramedics told the Cape Times that it was not unusual for criminals to purposely cause an accident so they could rob the victim.
A paramedic, who declined to be named, told the Cape Times that criminals were known to target motorists on roads alongside informal settlements, in some case throwing rocks at windscreens or physically obstructing cars.
“It’s heartbreaking when a patient asks you to call their mom from their cellphone. And you have to tell them: ‘No, your phone and everything is stolen’,” he said.
Describing her accident, Dalias, a brand-builder for Edward Snell and Co, said that she was about 500m from the Stellenbosch Arterial off-ramp, when she swerved to avoid the pedestrian.
“I was flung out of the vehicle through the front window as I was not wearing a safety belt. However, police stated I would have been crushed in the vehicle (had I been wearing one),” Dalias said.
Her car was looted while paramedics tended to her. Items stolen included cases of alcohol meant to be delivered to clients, CDs, a laptop, clothing, her handbag and car parts.
Dalias spent 31 days in an intensive care unit, half the time in a coma.
Her right leg was amputated at the knee and she had extensive surgery on her left leg.
Dalias underwent 20 operations and more are planned.
“Now the battle to raise funds starts, to pay for further prosthetics that I will need as I get older.”