Durban: The number of people who died in a horrific bus crash near Melmoth in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday has risen to 10, including the bus driver, spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Kwanele Ncalane, told SAnews today.
The bus was carrying maidens and their mothers on their way home from the Annual Reed Dance that had been held at eNyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma. The accident happened on Sunday night.
The accident occurred while the bus was travelling on the R66 (Nkwalini) between Melmoth and Eshowe. It is believed that the driver lost control and the bus overturned and slid down the road, on its side. Paramedics said the bus smashed into the Armco barriers, which pierced the front of the bus before causing it to stop.
The injured were taken to various hospitals including Ngwelezane Hospital, Empangeni and St Mary’s Kwa-Mangwaza Hospital in Melmoth. Most passengers are believed to be from uMzumbe, near Hibberdene on the South Coast.
Ncalane said the grim task of identifying the bodies began last night and is set to continue today.
MEC Willies Mchunu is to lead a delegation of senior government officials on behalf of the provincial government to visit the affected families at midday.
In a statement issued at 9pm on Sunday night, Mchunu had reportedly instructed that a team of experts be assembled to investigate the cause of the accident, the state of the driver and the roadworthiness of the bus.
“We are all shocked at the spate of accidents, especially in the last three months, which show a dramatic increase in road fatalities. The other worrying trend is that many of these accidents involve the loss of young lives. In this instance, these children had gone to participate in a cultural ceremony that promotes the wellbeing and dignified growth of young girls through to adult life,” Mchunu said.
In July, KwaZulu-Natal had lost 158 lives in road accidents alone.
Mchunu expressed heartfelt condolences to the families and wished a speedy recovery to all the injured on behalf of the provincial government.
“A case of culpable homicide has been opened in Eshowe police station, and detectives are investigating,” said the South African Police Service (SAPS) provincial spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge.
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal Arts and Culture MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha said they will be offering counselling to the affected families.
“We are going to offer counselling for families, survivors and we are also working on establishing a hotline that would be announced later this morning for the affected families so they can verify and get assistance.”