LEPHALALE — One would have assumed that the local fire department would be on standby to attend to the entrapped occupants during an accident that claimed two lives on the R510 on Thursday 30 August.
It was just after 18:00 when a motor vehicle accident involving a Toyota Hilux and Opel Corsa took place near Stockpoort, around 30 km outside Lephalale.
As soon as calls were made to alert the emergency services to send an ambulance to the scene, disaster management was also called.
By 19:45 the message from Lephalale fire department was that they do not attend to calls.
Around 21:25 the official report of the accident stated that two occupants of the Opel Corsa died and the driver of the Hilux was nowhere to be found.
At 22:05 the Waterberg Crisis Control from Modimolle had confirmed that a rescue vehicle was despatched from Mokopane. The distance from Mokopane to Lephalale is over 170 kilometres. Given that the accident happened over 30 kilometres away from Lephalale this can only mean that the rescue vehicle would have to travel over 200 kilometres to attend to the scene.
During situations that require rescue vehicles and the Jaws of Life, time is a vital commodity and emergency services must be swift.
The Mokopane rescue vehicle arrived at the scene after 00:30 and only by 02:00 was the team, including two private local ambulances and the provincial ambulance, done with the callout.
This fatal accident on Thursday was not the first incident to reveal red flags concerning Lephalale Disaster Management.
In June this year Mogol Post reported about a fire that consumed a shack in Marapong, destroying everything inside it. An hour after a call was made to the fire department, there was still no response and it was through an effort by the community that the fire was eventually extinguished.
The disaster personnel claimed that they do not have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and can thus not attend to the scene.
Mogol Post sent a list of questions to the Head of Communications in the Waterberg District Municipality, Mr Pat Malete, but could not receive a response before publication.
On a follow-up to the previous communication and seeking answers on the way forward, Mogol Post asked the District Municipality if it was aware that calls are not attended to. Clarity was also sought regarding the dispatching of rescue vehicles during future incidents within Lephalale.
On Monday evening 3 September Mr Malete acknowledged he received the email and forwarded it to the relevant department for answers.
By the time of going to print, no answers were received to any of these questions.