Top sport administrator dies in bus crash

Rollersport South Africa president Willie van Heerden and his wife, Madeleine, have been identified as the couple killed in Monday’s bus crash in the Free State.

Van Heerden was one of South Africa’s top sport administrators, Minister of Sport and Recreation Makhenkesi Stofile said in conveying sympathy to the couple’s daughter, Wendy, and the rest of their family.

Van Heerden was vice-president of the Africa Rollersport Association, and his wife the secretary of Rollersport South Africa.

”We mourn their passing with deepest sadness,” Stofile said.

The accident on the N1 highway near Springfontein in the southern Free State also claimed the life of the bus driver, who died of his injuries in hospital.

Twenty-two other people — mostly tourists — were injured in the accident and treated at two Bloemfontein hospitals.

The driver lost control of the bus and it landed in a ditch after bursting a tyre at 2.30am, said Free State police spokesperson Captain Elsa Gerber.

Police and traffic authorities battled all day to pull out the wreck and free the bodies trapped inside. They were recovered only by mid-morning, said Gerber.

Highway traffic was diverted through Springfontein during the operation.

Stofile said a team of speed skaters from Pretoria was travelling with the Van Heerdens from Cape Town to Pretoria at the time of the accident.

”Some of the passengers, including children and their parents, were slightly injured and are recovering in local hospitals,” said Stofile.

According to the department, there was also a group of Italian speed skaters on the bus. They were touring the country, participating in speed-skating competitions.

Police earlier said most of the passengers in the bus were from New Zealand, Italy and The Netherlands. — Sapa

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