and Aziz Hartley
TWO employees of an electrical company were killed and 18 were injured when their company vehicle left the Katbakkies Pass between Ceres and Koue Bokkeveld yesterday.
“We suspect the driver lost control and it rolled down the mountain,” said Witzenberg municipality traffic chief Cedric Cornelius.
Coenraad Boshoff, the director of Tractionel Enterprise in the Northern Cape, said the staff vehicle, a passenger truck, was transporting 20 employees from Johannesburg to Lamberts Bay.
“Tragically, two of our colleagues were killed. We wish to extend our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of these individuals,” said Coenraad.
Boshoff said a 21-year-old employee from Kimberley and a 26-year-old colleague from Mamelodi near Pretoria died.
“They were both single. We’ve been in contact with the families, but prefer not to divulge details of the two employees at this stage.
“We’ve committed to ensure their remains are returned to their families and we will see what further support we can offer.”
The survivors who had been discharged from hospital would be flown back to Johannesburg today.
Boshoff said the workers were to begin maintenance work last night on one of Transnet’s electrical networks.
“We are very thankful to the local traffic authorities and emergency medical teams.”
Boshoff said three critically injured employees were transferred to Worcester and Tygerberg hospitals while the remaining injured were treated at the scene, taken to nearby hospitals and discharged later.
EMS spokeswoman for the Cape Winelands District Jo-Anne Otto said the two workers were declared dead on the scene and some of the injured were trapped in the vehicle.
Police accident investigators were at the scene yesterday afternoon to investigate the crash.
Scuff marks were visible in the road where the vehicle veered off. Its front was crushed as it came to rest on its side about 30m from the road. Passengers’ belongings, including blankets, clothing, and pillows, were strewn on rocks on the mountain slope.
Another company vehicle was sent to Ceres Hospital to pick up injured workers who had been discharged.
A worker who said he was one of the drivers, but who refused to give his name, sat inside the small bus, his head and thumb bandaged. His pants were bloodstained and he had a cut to the forehead.
“I was too tired and I gave off to the other driver to take over. I slept,” he said.
He said he could not remember more about what happened after the crash because he had blacked out.
As he spoke a small group of injured workers was led out of the hospital to the bus. Escorted by company officials, they had their heads bandaged. Some had cuts on their legs and hands.
The workers said they were not ready to comment because they were still in shock.
Police spokesman Tembinkosi Kinana said the accident happened at 5am.
“A culpable homicide case will be investigated to determine the cause of the accident,” he said.