Terrified passengers on an overloaded bus that crashed into a house in KwaDabeka on Saturday, killing four people, had pleaded with the driver to slow down but were ignored, one of the survivors said on Sunday night.
Soon thereafter, the allegedly drunk driver let go of the steering wheel as the bus approached a bend in the road.
Siphokazi Roqa said that was when she and many of the other 90 passengers knew they were in grave danger.
“We shouted at him to hold it,” she told the Daily News.
“By then, people were screaming and crying because we could see that we were going to crash. He steered the bus straight into someone’s house and the bus rolled and landed on its roof.”
ER24 spokesman, Andre Visser, said four people were declared dead at the scene, while two passengers sustained serious injuries. The remaining 80 passengers were treated for scrapes and bruises, suspected back and neck injuries, and broken bones. They were taken to several medical facilities.
Roqa, 22, said the passengers – all of them were family, neighbours and friends – had been on their way to her grandfather’s funeral in Wyebank, and thereafter to a cemetery in KwaDabeka. Her one-year-old son, Amkelwe, was with her.
“We were jam-packed in the bus,” she said. “What I can recall is that we were on the way to Wyebank when the bus almost toppled on its side as we approached a set of traffic lights.”
Roqa said they had told the driver to reduce his speed.
“After the funeral service we got into the bus to head to the cemetery. After what had happened earlier, people were not very comfortable, but had no choice.”
The driver continued to speed on the way to KwaDabeka, Roqa said.
“I remember that once again people begged him to stop speeding but just like before, he ignored us.
“We then started to smell tyres and then brakes (burning) and begged him to drive slowly, but he was stubborn.”
Not long after that they approached a bend in the KwaDabeka main road and the driver allegedly suddenly let go of the steering wheel.
The bus overturned multiple times before coming to a standstill against a house.
Roqa said she suffered cuts and bruises and her son was also injured. She had seen a lot of blood and injured passengers, she said.
Ntombikayise Sibisi, whose husband Musa’s funeral they had been attending, said she had lost several people close to her – her sister, No Shozi, a relative, a neighbour and her pastor in the accident.
“When I saw the bus for the first time I honestly did not think anyone had survived,” said Sibisi, who was a passenger in the hearse that the bus had been following.
“It was just too gruesome and what made me feel even worse was that all these people were friends, neighbours and relatives who had come to support me in my time of grief.
“When I saw this bus, I was worried about its condition as I sat in the hearse with my husband’s body. But I did not expect my worry to end in such tragedy,” she said.
“I was supposed to be laying my husband to rest; instead four people died and many others were injured. I am still trying to make sense of it all. I really don’t know what to do. I’m just highly traumatised.
A staff member at King Edward VIII Hospital’s trauma unit said on Sunday night they were “very, very” busy as a result of the accident, but had managed to see to all the crash patients.
“Only one of them was found to be critical and was transferred to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital,” the staff member said.
Ross Madlala, whose home the bus had crashed into, said he was very upset.
Madlala, 25, said he was at his home with two friends watching TV, when he heard a loud explosion at about 2pm.
“We turned and there was this huge hole in the wall with a bus lying against it,” he said.
“We ran out of the house as we thought the wall was going to collapse, and I saw a woman lying on the ground with blood all over her face.”
“I was traumatised,” said Madlala, who lives alone and is unemployed.
“When I came out of the house and saw the bus, I was shaking. People died there, so I am scared to go back.”
Madlala is staying at a friend’s house while his house is repaired.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge, said the names of the deceased had not been released as their next of kin had not yet been informed.
“The bus, which we believe was privately owned, was overloaded,” he said.
“A case of culpable homicide has been opened against the driver, and police are also investigating a case of drunken driving and reckless and negligent driving.”
The driver was released on bail and was due to appear in court today.
The spokesman for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport Kwanele Ncalane, said last night that the department noted, “with regret”, that in one weekend alone several people had died in road accidents.
“This is unacceptable
. We want to say that if they are all as a result of human mistakes and those responsible are alive, they must face the music, as we strongly believe that they can be prevented,” Ncalane said. - Daily News