Initial probe points to 'human error' in fatal Limpopo bus crash

21 September 2018 - 14:58
By Poloko Tau
A bus crashed on the N1 in Limpopo.
Image: SUPPLIED A bus crashed on the N1 in Limpopo.

Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha has urged motorists to ensure they are fit to drive and do vehicle safety checks after two bus crashes claimed at least 20 lives in less than a week in the province.

A trip from Harare to Johannesburg ended in tragedy early on Friday with bodies having to be pulled from underneath a long-distance bus that left the N1 southbound lane and rolled about 20km outside Polokwane. Initial investigations pointed to human error being a possible cause of the crash.

Mathabatha has promised strict policing of the roads.

“As we approach festive season‚ we will tighten up law enforcement and be merciless against transgressors‚” he said.

Limpopo authorities confirmed that nine people had died‚ after initial reports by emergency services said 10 people had died in Friday’s crash.

Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) spokesperson Simon Zwane said in a statement on Friday that an accident reconstruction team had already started investigating the cause of the tragedy.

“Investigators from the RTMC have joined the team led by SA Police Service and preliminary indications from the team is that human error was the main cause crash. However‚ this will be further investigated by experts from the police and the RTMC.”

People who got close to the scene believe the driver may have lost control of the bus‚ resulting in it hitting roadside barriers and then rolling downhill until it landed on its side.

“Bags‚ bodies and injured people were strewn around the bus while medical and rescue teams pulled others who were trapped underneath the bus. You could see from a distance looking down at the wreckage that others were already dead‚” said one person who was at the scene.

Arrive Alive said in a statement that paramedics and police arrived at the crash site to find a “large bus lying on its side on the side of the road. Numerous people were found lying scattered around the vehicle”.

Some had fatal injuries and were declared dead on the scene while five people sustained critical injuries and 29 others minor to moderate injuries. They were transported to nearby hospitals.

Eleven people were killed on the N1 southbound near Mookgophong when a bus travelling from Zambia to Gauteng crashed on Monday. It too‚ overturned. The RTMC said it was “alleged that the bus experienced a tyre burst after which the driver lost control and veered off the road”.

The RTMC revealed the latest crashes followed “two gruesome crashes” in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape in August.

“In KwaZulu-Natal‚ five people were killed when a bus traveling from Johannesburg to Empangeni crashed and overturned near Melmoth. Twelve people suffered serious injuries while 15 escaped with minor injuries. In the Western Cape‚ 10 people died when a bus overturned in the early hours of the morning outside Beaufort West … 30 were injured‚” it said.