Bus overturns North of Louis Trichardt, Limpopo, killing 14 people
14 people were killed and 36 others were injured following a bus collision on the N1 highway just north of Louis Trichardt in Limpopo on Monday, 6 May 2019. Jack Ramalatso, divisional officer for Makhado Fire Department, says the call came in at 17h10. Following an assessment of the scene, it was apparent that at least two of the victims were entrapped under the bus and their bodies would need to be extricated with the help of a specialised tow truck operator. Ramalatso says Nicholas Muller of Sansouci Towing was able to assist his fire fighters to lift the bus using airbags. Acting district manager for Vhembe District Emergency Medical Services, Maxie Jordaan, says 13 passengers were declared on scene and the 14th patient, an infant, died later while in medical care.
She said paramedics and Makhado Fire Department arrived on the scene to find the bus lying on its roof off the roadway, with numerous people lying around. Paramedics treated 36 patients on the scene and assessments of the injuries ranged from minor to critical. The whole road in both directions was secured by South African Police Services. Jordaan says several private ambulance companies assisted with transfer of patients to local hospitals. “What was unusual but very welcome, was that three forensic vehicles were on scene. Many times we wait for several hours for them to remove the deceased patients, so that was a welcome change,” added Jordaan.
Once treated, the patients were transported by to nearby hospitals for further care.
Survivors of the crash that claimed 14 lives in Limpopo on Monday say the driver was tired and the bus was overloaded.
The Marsmery bus was travelling from Pretoria to Harare, Zimbabwe, when it overturned on the N1 north, near the Ingwe Hotel in Louis Trichardt. According to Makoma Makhurupetje, Limpopo MEC for transport and community safety, the cause of the accident is not known. In a statement after the crash he explicitly said "reckless driving is not ruled out as the possible cause".
Survivors say the driver arrived early in the morning after a long journey and set off again at once. Medusa Mamvura, who was still wearing her bloodstained blouse when in Louis Trichardt Hospital a day after the accident, says the cause of the crash could have been driver fatigue. "We were supposed to leave Pretoria on Sunday, 5 May 2019, for Zimbabwe but that was not the case. We had to spend the whole night waiting for the bus until Monday morning. The bus arrived around 5h00 on Monday. The drivers did not rest. We loaded our goods and off we left for Zimbabwe. We were not happy going back with the same drivers and insisted on being refunded but that fell on deaf ears," said Mavura. Her two-year-old child sitting next to her had bruises all over her face.
Another survivor, Ruramai Torima, sitting in a wheelchair, said, "At a weighbridge before Polokwane the driver was told the bus was overloaded. We do not know what happened for us to pass overloaded like that." But a supervisor who works at the weighbridge (but wasn’t on duty that night) said that if the bus had been overloaded, it would not have been allowed to continue.
Torima said, "As we passed Louis Trichardt towards Messina there was a steep slope and the bus was speeding, leading to the loss of control. All I can remember is crying for help and at the same time pulling my child out from under the seat." Her child was not hurt.
Limpopo police investigating officer Tshifhiwa Netshiya said the name Marsmery was on the side of the bus and the number plate reflected it as part of the Marsmery fleet. According to Netshiya, the driver was not hurt but the police do not know where he is. Marsmery Travel and Coaches was registered in 2006. According to a company search, it is a closed corporation that has one director, Murinziri Nyaradzo Tandiwe. He took over in 2017 and lives in Zimbabwe. The survivors were all Zimbabweans.
Chizivano Moyo, failing to hold back tears, said, "I lost my wife and three stepchildren in this accident. I do not know what to do. At the weighbridge near Polokwane we realised the bus was not in good condition. The driver did some touch-ups [tightening exhaust nuts] on the bus and we suspected something was not in condition." Moyo, does odd jobs in SA. His late wife was employed as a domestic worker. They come from Masvingo province, Zimbabwe. He had bruises on his left arm and on the head.
Makurupetje said, "The driver and vehicle fitness for long-distance cross-border buses is a matter of deep concern to us. It is about time that our law enforcement officers step up their routine checks on these buses to prevent this kind of accident from happening. "I also call upon drivers of buses and other public transport to take rest in between trips as the lives of passengers remain in their hands."
Source: Times Live and IOL