Johannesburg – Blood continues to flow on South Africa’s roads as the death toll has seen a sharp rise in the past few days.
At least 48 people were killed and 88 injured over the Christmas weekend. In some of the more devastating accidents, five people were killed on the N1 near Mookgophong in Limpopo after a bakkie and a car collided head-on.
Limpopo transport department spokesman Joshua Kwapa said: “The two drivers of the vehicles and three others were killed on impact. If you look at the causes, it’s unsafe overtaking; people must not overtake when it’s dangerous to do so."
In a separate head-on collision early on Tuesday, five people were killed and two others left critical in Bethlehem, Free State. According to Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha, a taxi and a Toyota sedan were involved in the crash.
“Paramedics arrived at the scene and found the wreckages of both vehicles in the veld next to the roadway, with some of the injured trapped in the twisted metal,” he said.
“After the injured were triaged, it was found that five occupants from the Toyota had tragically died, and two people from the taxi were in a serious condition.”
Elsewhere, a mother and father were killed and their two young children were left critical after a crash on the N12 near Zuurbekom outside Carletonville, just before 6am on Tuesday.
“A bakkie and a VW Polo were found overturned. All four occupants were ejected from the bakkie," said ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak, adding that the cause was being investigated.
“The parents were found with fatal injuries near their overturned bakkie; the two children were found with serious injuries and were stabilised before they were rushed through to a nearby hospital,”
On Monday, two women were killed and two others seriously injured on the R330 in the Eastern Cape near St Francis Bay. It’s believed a bakkie and a car collided head-on. A car behind the two vehicles was also involved, but its occupants were unharmed.
On Christmas Day, two people, including a seven-year-old child, died in a head-on collision on the R59 about 10km outside Parys in the Free State, while one person was killed in a crash in Krugersdorp.
In a separate incident also on Christmas, five people were injured after a high-speed crash on the N14 in Nooitgedacht.
On Saturday, six people, including a policeman, burnt to death after a head-on collision on the R37 between Polokwane and Burgersfort, and three people, including a pregnant woman, were killed and nine others injured after a truck overturned on the N12 outside Potchefstroom.
“It was found with (people sustaining) fatal injuries underneath the truck. One person was found with critical injuries. Sadly, while paramedics were attending to the patient, he succumbed to his injuries," said ER24 paramedics.
Carnage in the Cape
Preliminary preliminary statistics showed that 130 people have been killed on Western Cape roads since 1 December – with 54 of the fatalities said to be pedestrians.
An collision between an Intercape bus and a minibus taxi on Saturday morning near Worcester left 13 people dead, including a six-month-old baby and a three-year-old girl, and at least nine others injured.
MEC for transport Donald Grant promised his department would work with the investigators looking into the Christmas Eve crash.
“My department will assist the police in their investigation, and will continue to work tirelessly in partnership with the citizens to make our roads safer.
“I continue to urge all road users to be extra vigilant during this time, particularly when travelling late into the night with limited visibility.
“Horrific crashes like these are entirely avoidable through responsible road use at all times. Let us not allow this holiday season to be marred by irresponsible and reckless behaviour,” he said.
During the launch of the festive season Traffic Operational Plan, Grant acknowledged that the road death level had reached “alarming levels”.
“We remain painfully aware of the lives that are lost on our roads at this time of the year. People have had their lives cut unnecessarily short, often through their own actions, or the actions of others.
“What is supposed to be a time of joy is too often marred by reckless behaviour and peaking fatalities.”
Seven dead in KZN
At least seven people were killed and several others injured in crashes across KwaZulu-Natal the province during the Christmas period.
A pedestrian was killed on Friday in a collision on the N3 north between the Bergville interchange and the Tugela toll plaza, and another person was killed in a crash in Edendale, while three people were killed in Pongola when a taxi veered off the road and crashed into a bridge early on Tuesday.
And in another crash on Tuesday morning, Netcare 911 paramedics responded to a collision between a bakkie and a taxi on the road leading to Inanda dam. Paramedics found six people had sustained injuries ranging from serious to minor.
That afternoon two people were killed and eight others sustained injuries, including two serious cases, in a taxi crash in Impendle, west of Pietermaritzburg.
ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said paramedics from ER24 and Emergency Medical Rescue Services arrived on the scene shortly after 2pm, to final several injured people outside a crashed taxi.
“Two had fatal injuries,” he said. “They were later declared dead by EMRS.”
Authorities are investigating and the details of those who died have yet to be released.
One man was killed and two more injured on Tuesday night when an SUV rear-ended a light motor vehicle at the N2/N3 split in Durban. The male driver of the SUV died at the scene and was found lying some distance from his vehicle. Two other people sustained minor injuries.
Johannesburg metro police department spokesman Superintendent Wayne Minnaar called the high number of road deaths across the country unacceptable.
“Motorists have to change their behaviour on the roads. Motorists must obey the rules. If we don’t obey the rules, the death toll will keep increasing,” Minnaar said.
The SA National Civic Organisation has also condemned the festive season's fatalities. National spokesman Jabu Mahlangu conveyed his condolences to families who lost loved ones.
“Innocent lives are prematurely lost on public roads due to irresponsible driver behaviour. Law enforcement on speeding must be intensified to deal harshly with speedsters who are robbing families of precious lives of breadwinners and their loved ones,” he said, calling for harsh measures for road violations.
Last week transport minister Dipuo Peters said the death toll recorded on the country’s roads during the first 19 days of December was 845 – 17 percent higher than the same period in 2015. The department of transport said an updated figure would be released during the second week in January.
The Star, Cape Argus, The Mercury