Easter carnage leaves 151 dead

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

South Africa's main roads were choc-a-block with traffic as holidaymakers and worshippers returned home after the Easter weekend.

The Road Traffic Management Authority said that 137 accidents had been recorded around the country by yesterday afternoon. By late yesterday the death toll stood at 151 after an accident in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, claimed four lives.

The latest tally came after a taxi and a car collided. Four people were seriously injured.

The RTMA had earlier reported 147 deaths from 136 crashes.

Last year a staggering 297 people were killed on the nation's roads over the Easter long weekend.

More holidaymakers are expected back today before inland schools reopen tomorrow.

Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal led the fatalities with 26 victims each this year.

The traffic flow at the Beit Bridge border post in Musina rose sharply yesterday as Zimbabweans returned from the break. Thousands of cars and buses ferrying the faithful, returning from the ZCC church's yearly pilgrimage to Moria, near Polokwane, also added to the volume of traffic on the north-south N1 highway.

RTMA spokesperson Ntau Letebele attributed Limpopo's high death toll to the many migrant workers who visit their homes over long weekends, as well as overloading and unroadworthy vehicles.

Th Northern Cape reported only two fatalities, followed by the Western Cape with six.

In Gauteng, 16 people had died since the start of the Easter holiday.

Letebele said special precautions and law enforcement efforts were planned on all the national roads to Gauteng, including the N1 from Polokwane and from Bloemfontein, the N4 from Nelspruit and the N3 from Durban.

Yesterday morning ER24 paramedics reported that two people were killed and others were seriously injured when two vehicles collided head-on in Warden.

On Sunday night, a pedestrian died when he was hit by a car while crossing the N3 south in Bedfordview, Ekurhuleni. The same day paramedics found a man crushed under his own car on the N3 in Marlboro, Sandton, after it overturned. Two males and a female were thrown from the vehicle.

Two teenagers were killed and another was in a critical condition after their BMW hit a tree in the veld alongside the R562 late on Friday night.

In the Free State more than 1540 cars an hour were passing through the Villiers toll plaza on the highway to Gauteng between Warden and Heidelberg, with 645 vehicles an hour travelling in the opposite direction to Durban. The provincial death toll stood at 18 by late yesterday.

"Most of these accidents were caused by negligence and total disregard for the rules of the road," said Welile Walaza, spokesperson for the provincial transport department.

Two taxis crashed on Sunday night after one failed to stop at an intersection on the R702 near Wepener. Nine people died in the crash and 18 others were taken to hospitals in Bloemfontein.