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Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal - A bus was speeding when it crashed in Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal, at the weekend, killing nine people, provincial transport authorities said on Monday.
Traffic officials had earlier stopped the bus in Nongoma and found that its driver was under the influence of alcohol, said transport MEC Willies Mchunu.
“The driver was arrested and detained in Nongoma, and subsequently replaced with another driver who was behind the wheel when the accident occurred,” he said.
It was initially reported that 10 people died in the crash, however, Mchunu said the driver was still in hospital and had not died.
“The death toll still stands at nine, including seven girls and two women who had been acting as their guardians,” he said.
The girls had taken part in the reed dance at the Nyokeni Palace.
On Sunday, paramedics reported that the bus overturned and crashed into steel barriers on the R66 near Nkwalini, between Melmoth and Eshowe.
“Paramedics... arrived at the scene and found that the barriers had pierced through the front of the bus,” said Netcare 911
spokesman Chris Botha. More than 60 people were injured.
The government would pay for the funerals, Mchunu said on Monday.
“(We) will provide full support to families with burials of children and women who died in (the) tragic bus accident,” he said.
He and other government officials met the families of the dead earlier on Monday.
He expressed his condolences on behalf of the government.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of yet more innocent lives in an accident that could have been avoided by strictly adhering to road traffic rules.
“These kind of accidents shouldn't happen if people driving understood that they are responsible for the lives of their passengers.”
Mchunu said he was unhappy about the high number of accidents in the province in the past three months.
“In the months of July and August, the number of road fatalities grew sharply, recording 339 people losing their lives on our roads,” he said. - Sapa