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Survivors of the Field’s Hill horror crash this week told of their agony while relatives of those who died wept for their loss.
Johannes Dlamini broke both his legs. His right eye has been stitched shut and he hasn’t been able to move his body which is in excruciating pain.
“But I am happy,” said the 45-year-old father of two. “I’m happy to be alive. I’m happy I survived,” he said, speaking from his R.K Khan Hospital bed 0n Friday. “I don’t know how or why I survived, but I know that it was all God’s doing, and for that I’m happy,” he said, in pain, and struggling to project his voice.
Dlamini, a self-employed welder from KwaNdengezi, was one of the survivors of the gruesome crash that claimed the lives of 22 on Thursday evening.
He had boarded one of the minibus taxis at the Pinetown rank after 6pm. “The taxi was about to take off at the robot when I heard a loud bang.”
He doesn’t remember what happened then, but he vaguely recalls seeing bodies strewn around him while he lay on the side of the road in unbearable pain. “The next thing I remember is waking up here,” he said, trying to touch what looked like a blood clot on his nose.
On the other side of the hospital, Lindiwe Ndlovu said she watched in shock as two taxi commuters died next to her as they arrived at the Chatsworth hospital. “They died before we even made our way into the hospital building.”
Ndlovu, 41, of Mariannhill, said she didn’t see the truck approaching but she remembers hearing people screaming and crying before the taxi started spinning.
The mother of three, who runs a catering company in Pinetown, sustained leg and head injuries. “When I hear the death toll and think about the other commuters that died in front of me I know God spared my life for a reason,” she said.
Another survivor, Simphiwe Ndlela, 24, from Hammarsdale, said the only thing he remembers is being trapped in the taxi, feeling extremely cold.
He suffered a leg injury.
Inconsolable relatives of the 22 victims yesterday described how they had desperately hoped their loved ones were not among the casualties when they heard about the accident.
When their respective relatives had not returned home by late evening, their worst fears were confirmed.
Speaking at the Pinetown Civic Centre, where a meeting between the relatives and transport authorities was held, Thembisa Nompula, who lost her only sibling, Ntombifuthi Nompula, said she had been alerted by a friend about the deadly accident.
Realising that she was not back home, the Nompula family searched for her at surrounding hospitals and the Pinetown Police Station.
The morgue was their last resort. “We had to identify my sister from each and every body at the morgue,” she said, trying to keep her composure. “It was the most traumatic experience.”
Her 22-year-old sister, a Unisa Environmental Studies student had a bright future, she said. “It’s a great loss for our family. She was dedicated at all things, she had a lot of potential as a youngster.”
Nompula urged the public to get involved by reporting negligent driving of all vehicles. “As communities and passengers we have a right to report bad driving of trucks and taxis.”
Zandile Mncwaba, who lost her fiancé, Mduduzi Nyaba, was too traumatised to speak.
Her sister, Bonisile, said they were alarmed when Nyaba did not return home that night.
“He has never spent a night away from home and he was returning from work on Thursday evening,” said Bonisile.
Nyaba had been travelling home in one of the taxis that were heading to Mlaba Village.
Consoling the bereaved families, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said a report on improving road conditions and removing trucks from the road was being compiled and would be given to her by next week.
Acting President Jeff Radebe said it was everyone’s responsibility to be advocates of road safety.
“More than 90 percent of road accidents are caused by parties that commit criminal offences by breaking the rules of the road.”
He went on to say that President Jacob Zuma had passed on his condolences when he heard of the incident.
“Our president, who was deeply concerned when he was told of the incident, expressed his deepest condolences to the bereaved families.” - Independent On Saturday