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Johannesburg - Political parties were saddened and shocked by the deaths of 27 people on Thursday evening in an accident in Field's Hill, Pinetown, in KwaZulu-Natal.
The African National Congress said it was saddened by the deaths from the accident, where a truck crashed into four minibus taxis and a car.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to families of the deceased and those injured,” said national spokesman Jackson Mthembu in a statement.
“We call on communities where the victims reside to give support and assistance that will help them cope with this tragedy. The South African community must keep these families in their prayers.”
The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini expressed shock following the accident, with leader Zwakele Mncwango offering his condolences to the families of the deceased.
“The DA in eThekwini believes that law enforcement agencies must be given space to investigate the cause of the incident,” he said.
“The DA joins in mourning the loss of these loved ones with those affected and the broader city of Durban during this trying and difficult time.”
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal mourned the deaths of those killed in the accident.
It was especially saddening when the people of KwaZulu-Natal were still in shock after the deaths of 10 people returning from the annual reed dance at Nyokeni Palance on Sunday, the party said in a statement.
“We now again lose so many people in one accident.”
The party sent its condolences to the families of those killed and wished for a speedy recovery to the injured.
“The ANC (in KwaZulu-Natal) is concerned with the growing number of people dying on our roads. We call on law enforcement agencies to work hard in making sure that those who disregard the rules are put behind bars.”
If nothing was done, carnage on the roads would continue to rob people of their lives.
The accident occurred when an articulated truck hit four fully-laden taxis and a Volkswagen Golf at the intersection of Field’s Hill (M13) and Richmond roads in Pinetown shortly before 7pm, according to paramedics.
ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said at least 32 people were injured - 10 of them critically - in the Pinetown crash.
Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha said most of them were taken to the RK Khan and Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospitals.
Botha suggested that the number of dead might initially have been overestimated from the scene, and that the figure could drop to 22. However there was no confirmation of this.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has ordered a high-level investigation into the crash, her department said in a statement.
Peters extended her condolences to the families and friends of those who died and wished the survivors a speedy recovery, strength and resilience. She would visit them on Friday, her department said.
KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate spokeswoman Zinhle Mngomezulu said that the Pinetown accident occurred when the brakes allegedly failed on the truck.
It took the off-ramp from the M13 at the bottom of Field’s Hill and crashed into the minibus taxis and car at the intersection with Richmond Road.
It came to a standstill about 30m from the intersection.
Paramedics from various services arrived to find people and debris scattered across the scene.
Witnesses told them they had seen people flung from the vehicles as they were hit and then dragged by the truck.
The eThekwini Fire Brigade used the Jaws of Life to extract some of the injured and the dead from the mangled wreckage of the taxis.
Paramedics roped in bystanders to help hold drip bags for some of the injured.
The M13, down Field’s Hill in the direction of Durban, was expected to remain closed until Friday morning to allow crash scene investigators to carry out their work.
KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC Willies Mchunu, who went to the scene as soon as he heard what had happened, said the truck driver was in police custody.
KwaZulu-Natal acting premier Senzo Mchunu said a team was set up on Wednesday to come up with measures to curb road deaths. - Sapa