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Nelspruit - A bus driver's statement about a deadly collision with a train in Mpumalanga three years ago was rejected by the State on Monday.
Goodman Ngomane, 44, from Mahushu, near Hazyview, was arrested after the bus he was driving collided with a train outside Thulamahashe on July 31, 2010.
The bus was ferrying pupils and teachers from Khokhoba Primary School, in Islington Trust, back from a school trip to Pretoria.
Three pupils and a teacher died, and 62 pupils and teachers were seriously injured.
Ngomane pleaded guilty to four counts of murder and 62 counts of attempted murder in the Nelspruit Circuit of the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.
Rejecting his explanation of plea, prosecutor Dora Ngobeni said it contradicted information contained in State witnesses' affidavits.
State witness and Grade Four teacher Sydney Mathebula testified that Ngomane was angry at the time of the accident.
Before leaving, the group had told Ngomane they wanted leave at midnight to be at the zoo when it opened, and that they wanted to arrive home early in the morning because it was not safe to travel at night, he said.
However, Ngomane had insisted on leaving Pretoria when they finished their tour on Friday evening.
“He said he was in a hurry to reach home and be with his wife. He drove from Pretoria to Mahushu, where he met the owner and told the owner that he was not driving any further. The owner insisted he drop us off at our school.”
It was late that night when they asked him top drop off a teacher at her home, but on the way he had to drive on a gravel road and he refused, Mathebula told the court.
He was not happy when he did proceed and drove straight through the level crossing without checking whether a train was coming.
“As I was with him in the front, I turned and saw the train light approaching. I closed my ears as I could see we will not make it,” said Mathebula.
“The train collided with the bus and I found myself landed outside the bus. Pupils were crying and others had broken arms and legs,” he testified.
Ngomane’s defence said he would testify that he was to have taken everyone to the school and was not meant to take anybody home.
Judge Nomsa Khumalo adjourned the matter to Tuesday.