President Jacob Zuma is shocked at the deaths of 29 people in an accident involving a bus and a truck on the Moloto road near Kwaggafontein, Mpumalanga, the presidency said on Tuesday.
“This carnage must stop. It is completely unacceptable. The fact that this particular road has gained notoriety … means there’s something wrong that we need to address together,” Zuma said.
“We also urge the law enforcement authorities to swiftly get to the bottom of the cause of this tragedy and the law must be firm on those found to have flouted any rules and regulations of the road, leading to such high fatalities.”
Twenty-nine people were killed and 30 were injured when a bus and a truck collided on Monday night. Zuma wished the injured a speedy recovery.
“On behalf of government and all South Africans, we send our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this accident. May their souls rest in peace,” he said.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has ordered an investigation into the accident.
“The investigation team consists of the Road Traffic Management Corporation and traffic authorities in Mpumalanga,” spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso said.
The team would investigate the cause of the accident and recommend ways to prevent a repeat of such an accident.
The crash took place near the town of Kwaggafontein, 100 kilometres east of Pretoria late on Monday night.
Three of the injured died in hospital, while eight others were still critical and another 12 slightly hurt.
The bus was travelling from Pretoria when it collided with a truck, which had swerved out of its lane, said Mpumalanga province safety department spokesperson Joseph Mabuza.
Mpumalanga premier’s reaction
“The truck driver was trying to avoid a stationary vehicle and collided with the oncoming bus,” he said. “We are not sure if the truck driver and the bus driver survived the accident.”
The injured were taken to hospital in nearby KwaMhlangu. The bus company’s name was not immediately available.
Meanwhile, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza expressed shock and sadness over the deaths of the passengers.
“Indeed we are shocked by such a huge number of deaths and on behalf of the provincial government I offer our deepest and most sincere condolences to the bereaved families,” he said on Tuesday.
The premier urged motorists to be cautious and patient on the roads.
“Accidents are not only expensive to government but they rob families of their loved ones, breadwinners and future leaders for the country,” he said.
Overloaded and unroadworthy
Known as the Moloto Road after one of the towns along its way, the route is notorious for deadly collisions.
Around 50 000 people commute to work in Pretoria daily along the narrow and potholed route, using 635 buses.
Transport vehicles using the road are often overloaded and unroadworthy and drivers are prone to speeding.
Last month, 18 people were injured in collisions on the route.
Last year, religious leaders held a prayer service for the safety of the Moloto Road. A radio station also dedicated a day to profile its dangers during which the provincial government committed to improve conditions. – Sapa