Just after midnight on Saturday, as she drove her motorbike home from her second job at a beer garden, mother-of-two Sok Vanna was crushed on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard by a timber-laden truck bearing military number plates.
The truck, which according to police was at fault, sped off to its destination, SL Garments, where it delivered its logs to fuel the company’s furnaces.
Vanna died immediately. A journalist at the scene informed her family after finding a school-fees receipt for the eldest of the 28-year-old’s two daughters, aged 9.
Officers tailed the truck to SL Garment’s compound in Meanchey district, but they waited until morning to seize the vehicle. No arrests have been made.
Speaking on Sunday, chief of Phnom Penh’s traffic police Chev Hak confirmed the truck had borne Royal Cambodian Armed Forces plates.
He said police would “wait for the owner of the truck to come forward”. Deputy commune police chief Em Theary said as both vehicles were travelling in the same direction, the truck driver was liable for the crash.
“It was careless of the driver because the motorbike was in front and the truck drove behind,” he said.
Yesterday, Vanna’s husband, Meach Vireak, 32, cradled his youngest daughter Bela, 6, on his knee and spoke of his wife, whom he married 10 years ago after she moved to the capital to work at a garment factory. Vanna, he said, worked as a seamstress at the W&D garment factory and had only two months ago started working at a beer garden to help make ends meet.
“My wife was not supposed to die,” he said, before leaving the interview.
“They said they hadn’t found the driver or owner yet,” he said later by phone. “We saw the truck stained with blood . . . they should find the company because [the company] has the plates and documents.”
The Post in August reported that RCAF vehicles were regularly used to transport wood to SL Garment factory, a company linked to the Prime Minister’s sister, Hun Seng Ny. Based on receipts, the report established the construction company PSKV used military vehicles, including some with infantry unit insignias, to transport wood from Kampong Speu province.
A security guard speaking at the factory, who would only give his name as Reaksa, yesterday said he did not know the name of the supplier company or the driver’s name.
“It has nothing to do with us after they clean out the rubber trees, cut and sell it to the company. He arrived at night and we did not know he had a problem outside,” he said.
A representative of SL Garments reached by phone made a similar claim.
“About the wood truck, I don’t know what’s happening, I don’t know the wood supplier,” she said.
Last week, Defence Minister Tea Banh vowed those misusing defence hardware would face punishment.
Though reports often surface of military vehicles being used commercially, particularly for timber transportation, a Defence Ministry spokesman yesterday called such cases “individual issues” though he promised the ministry would “look into” the vehicle that killed Vanna and “take action” if appropriate.