Eight killed in Harrismith horror crash in Free State
Eight people were killed and two were critically injured in a horror head-on crash on the N3 near Harrismith on Sunday morning, 15 March 2020. According to police, the vehicles involved in the crash were a truck travelling towards Johannesburg, and two Hyundai half-ton trucks, both from the same company that were travelling to Durban. Free State police spokesperson Colonel Thandi Mbambo said the driver of one of the Hyundai trucks allegedly lost control of his vehicle. Mbambo said it was alleged that the vehicle then veered into the oncoming lane and hit a heavy-duty truck. She said the heavy-duty truck and the second Hyundai truck also collided. “The driver of the heavy-duty truck was taken to a local hospital for medical treatment. Both drivers of the Hyundai trucks and six other people, died on impact. Six people in the first Hyundai truck and two people in the second Hyundai truck died,” said Mbambo. She said charges of culpable homicide were registered for further investigation and the exact cause of the accident would form part of investigations.
“The crash happened on the N3 next to Harrismith at 7h30am. The truck was travelling north and the two Durban-registered Hyundai LDVs were travelling south. The first Hyundai collided head-on with the truck, the second one crashed into them. Eight people died at the scene and two were injured,” said Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) spokesperson Simon Zwane. He added that five men and one woman in the first Hyundai died at the scene and two men from the second vehicle died and one suffered severe injuries. Zwane said the truck driver sustained minor injuries, confirming that among the dead were people from Durban.
Hillary Mophethe, spokesperson for the Free State Department of Police, Roads and Transport, said the heavy-duty truck had a Northern Cape registration, while the two Hyundai trucks had KwaZulu-Natal registration number plates.
With just four weeks before Easter, she said that the department was making preparations for the expected rise in road traffic. Mophethe also emphasised the importance of maintaining vehicles and ensuring they were roadworthy. “Public transport stakeholders, including trucking companies, have the responsibility to ensure that their fleet is roadworthy. They also have to make sure that they are taken for routine roadworthy tests for the safety of not only their drivers but other road users,” said Mophethe.
Spokesperson for the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), Simone Zwane, said they also dispatched their own team to the scene.
KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said they were alerted about the incident and a team would be dispatched to the Free State if needed. “The death of so many people at once is sad and we would like to send our condolences to the families,” said Ncalane. He said Transport and Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bheki Ntuli had directed all law enforcement agencies to put together an integrated plan to curb the road fatalities during the Easter holidays. He said the plan would look to ensure safety along provincial and national borders. “We have also identified hot spot areas within the province where police visibility must be intensified. Buses and taxis transporting people to church gatherings will be checked as well,” he said.
Sunday's crash comes after 26 were killed in a bus crash in the Eastern Cape on 2 March 2020. In that incident, the bus driver allegedly lost control of the bus, which then plunged down a cliff.
Source: The Mercury