A school excursion to uShaka Marine World at the weekend turned tragic when an allegedly “old and worn out” bus overturned, killing two pupils and injuring 75 others.
Police as well as shocked provincial transport and education authorities are trying to establish what went wrong, and whether the driver was “qualified” to drive the bus.
The vehicle itself is being checked for roadworthiness.
Owner of Soobhug Coaches, Minesh Jayram, on Monday morning denied the bus was unroadworthy. He said it had been serviced a week ago. Jayram said investigators from the SAPS Collision Unit alleged the driver had been speeding. He said the bus driver was experienced and had been working for him for more than 15 years.
One pupil told the Daily News that she had noticed the bus had a “funny smell, like something was burning”, when she got in. She and other pupils had complained about its condition, she said.
Two pupils - Namsile Kolisang and Zanele Mkhize - died in the accident in Shongweni on Saturday morning.
The pupils of the local Albini High School set off on what was to have been an exciting educational tour.
The bus was travelling on the meandering Shongweni Road when the driver apparently experienced difficulties.
Speaking to the Daily News from the Hillcrest Hospital, a 15-year-old pupil said the bus swerved as it was accelerating down the road.
“That bus was old and worn out, even one of our teachers commented about its condition before we went inside,” she said, tears welling up.
She sustained injuries to her neck and a broken leg.
Speaking at the family’s house in Inanda on Sunday, Namsile’s aunt Dolly Kolisang said they were shattered.
“When we were driving towards the scene of the accident, Jerry Kolisang (Namsile’s father) said he did not believe that his daughter had survived the accident.”
Yenziwe Mchunu, 15, Namsile’s best friend who was also in the bus, said the events unfolded rapidly.
“Our bus was an extra one. The other two buses were full and we needed to be accommodated,” she said.
“We all complained a bit when we saw it. There was a funny smell… like something was burning.”
Education head of department Nkosinathi Sishi visited some of the injured pupils at Chatsworth’s RK Khan Hospital on Sunday. He said they would be investigating whether the educational tour was compliant with the policy on school excursions, which stipulated that drivers needed to be “qualified” to drive buses for such purposes. Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said a case of culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving was being investigated. - Daily News