Knysna bus 'overloaded', says mayor
The driver of a 32-seater bus involved a crash in which 14 school pupils were killed in Knysna on Wednesday had allegedly tried to transport 58 schoolchildren in one trip instead of two, the Knysna executive mayor said on Thursday morning.
“I believe the driver was supposed to fetch the first lot of children and then return to fetch the rest,” Georlene Wolmarans told eNews.
“Yesterday, he transported them all in one trip and I believe that is what caused the bus to be overloaded.”
The children and the driver died when he lost control of the vehicle on a low bridge and it plunged into a dam on the way to school.
Another 44 children were injured, and were taken to Knysna provincial hospital with back and neck pain, and mild hypothermia.
They had all been discharged by Thursday morning.
The children were pupils at the Rheenendal Primary School and were aged between seven and 14.
Wolmarans said Wednesday had been a “black day” for Knysna.
She said the town’s authorities were working with the provincial transport department to make the road safer to use.
The Western Cape education department is investigating why the bus was allegedly overloaded.
“According to our records the vehicle approved for transport on this route is a bus that seats 67 learners,” said provincial minister Donald Grant.
“Sixty-five learners are registered on this route in our learner transport scheme. However, the bus involved in today’s accident is a 32-seater bus, which is usually assigned to another bus route,” he said.
Condolences continued to come in for the families of the children on Thursday morning.
The Western Cape’s Provincial Community Police Board pleaded with authorities to “act decisively” to prevent another accident.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union said the Road Transport Management Corparation had to employ more traffic officers to ensure roads were made safer.
“Road safety education must be made part of the school curriculum to produce responsible road behaviour for drivers, pedestrians and passengers alike,” it said.
President Jacob Zuma sent his condolences to the parents of the children on Wednesday night.
A memorial service was held for the children at Rheenendal Primary School on Thursday morning. - Sapa.