Another fatal accident on the deadly Magoebaskloof pass (R71) claimed the life of one of the regions veteran journalists on Friday afternoon. Sue Ettmayr (68) was on her way home when a heavily overloaded double-cab bakkie hit her Fiat 500 head-on just after the bridge in front of Stanford Lake College.
It is unclear exactly what happened but the two vehicles collided with such force that the bakkie overturned and landed on its roof roughly 50 meters from the point of impact. It would appear as though Sue, who lived on the Stanford Lake grounds, was turning into the entrance and the bakkie coming from atop the hill from Haenertsburg’s side either did not see her turning, or could not avoid the collision in time.
Sue was the only casualty.
The 12 occupants of the bakkie suffered moderate to mild injuries and were rushed to nearby hospitals. At the time of going to print it had not been made clear whether alcohol could be ruled as a cause for the accident.
This accident marked the 12th of its kind on this road since the start of this year with Sue being the eighth death. This translates into at least two people losing their lives on this notorious pass every month. There is no traffic enforcement along the route either and despite clear road markings, drivers often speed up and down the pass, overtaking on solid lines and around blind corners.
The lack of law enforcement on the pass is attributed to the fact that traffic officers have no safe space to pull vehicles over, for the entire stretch from Haenertsburg to Tzaneen. Therefore, the only chance authorities have to stop unsafe vehicles (whether this be unroadworthy or overloaded vehicles) or drunk drivers, is before they enter the pass.
Sue Ettmayr would have turned 69-years old this September. She was well-known and equally loved in the area as she was a village resident for many years. In her capacity as journalist, she led a colourful life having started her career in the city and being fortunate enough to have worked alongside the infamous “Bang Bang Club” at the Star in Pretoria for a time. Francois Aucamp, the first editor for Laeveld Bulletin employed Sue as his senior journalist approximately a decade and a half ago. After his passing in 2016, she stayed on as a freelancer for this publication after its name changed to Far North Bulletin.
She will be remembered for her fierce defence of the local wildlife and her promotion of healthy eating and veganism. Her knowledge of historical events and local fauna and flora will be sorely missed – so too will her command of the English language. She was pedantic in her quest for answers and drove a number of controversial investigations which most other journalists would have turned their back on.
She did this because she believed that the weak deserved a voice.
She was cremated on Wednesday afternoon and her memorial service will be held in the village hall on Friday (tomorrow) at 10:00. Tributes from all across the country have been pouring in to the Bulletin offices from colleagues in the industry who were privileged to have worked with, and learnt from this incredible woman.