By Francesca Villette, Xolani Koyana and Jason Felix
Cape Town - Twisted metal of a minibus taxi ripped apart, and bodies strewn across the road was the scene medics found on the N1 near De Doorns where nine security guards died in a horror crash early on Tuesday.
Authorities said nine others had been injured when the taxi crashed into a stationary truck.
Seven of the guards, who were all on their way home after having worked the night shift, died on impact.
“Two died while being extricated from the wreckage. Nine injured men were taken to the Worcester Hospital,” EMS spokesman Robert Daniels said.
Hospital spokeswoman Jo-Anne Otto said eight had been treated for lacerations and later discharged.
“Another man, who had serious head injuries, was transferred to Tygerberg Hospital where he is in a critical condition,” she said.
Eight of the guards who died were identified as Prieska Nkabi, Mziwakhiwe Ngxingweni, Alfred Sobuza, Priscilla Esterhuizen, Fundile Gladile, Ishmael Phamoli, Joseph Rasemeni and Moses Masimini.
They were employed by Vizual Security, contracted to provide services at the Golden Valley Casino in Worcester.
Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said a culpable homicide case had been opened. The truck driver, Blessing Mapfumo, 35, from Pietermaritzburg, described the moment he felt the taxi crash into his truck.
“I parked on the side of the road and slept there last night. I heard a bang at the back of my truck. When I looked to see what it was, I was frightened. I saw dead people and got back into my truck. I just sat there for a few minutes. I couldn’t move. I phoned my boss to tell him what happened,” Mapfumo said.
He was transporting wine from Robertson to Durban.
“One man was hanging upside down from the side of the taxi. His feet up in the air, head on the ground. This scene will haunt me forever,” he said.
A survivor, Jonas Bafasi, said: “The road was open and there was no rain, but the driver was driving fast. When we came to hospital later, I asked God why he didn’t take me, but he told me it wasn’t my time.”
Sobuza, 45, was the father of four. Pastor Benjamin Mema, of the Holy Spirit Zion Apostolic Church in De Doorns, who preached with Sobuza for seven years, delivered the news to his family. “His face was scratched and bruised. That is not how I want to remember my friend,” he said.
Sobuza’s wife, Nothulisi Sobuza, heard from a colleague that there had been an accident involving her husband. “He was the head of our household. I don’t know how we will cope without him,” she said.
Another truck driver, Michael Adams, 48, from Atlantis, was transporting food from Montague Gardens to East London when he stopped at the scene.
“It looked like a scene from a horror movie. It was impossible to differentiate between male and female. The bodies were scattered,” he said.
Transport MEC Robin Carlisle’s spokesman Siphesihle Dube said the taxi crashed into the stationary truck, which had been standing on a yellow line. “Preliminary reports indicate that poor visibility due to very bad weather, as well as speed may have been contributing factors, but the SAPS is investigating. We will be keeping a very close eye on the investigation into the senseless death of so many. We also extend our deepest condolences to their families,” Dube said.
Vizual Security spokeswoman Wendy Struyweg said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life of our colleagues… Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.”