Mpumalanga Community Safety MEC Pat Ngomane (first from left) speaks to other government officials outside the Machadodorp traffic centre. PHOTO: ANA Reporter

Machadodorp - The driver of a truck that was involved in an accident that claimed 18 lives between Badplaas and Machadodorp in Mpumalanga might have caused the crash, provincial MEC for Safety and Security Pat Ngomane said on Thursday.

“It seems the driver of the truck had some challenges on the road,” said Ngomane while speaking to the African News Agency (ANA) in Machadodorp, a small town about 140 kilometres from Middelburg.

“We welcome the arrest of the driver. He appeared in court yesterday [Wednesday] but I have not yet received a full report on this matter.”

The accident happened on the R541 road on Tuesday morning, when two minibuses and an articulated truck collided. Some of the people who died were mineworkers of Franki Afrika who were travelling to work when the accident happened.

Ngomane said his department was negotiating with Franki Afrika to ensure that the company assisted the families of the dead mineworkers. 

Ngomane lamented the carnage caused by motor vehicle accidents on the province's roads, saying most of the crashes were caused by a human error.

A traffic officer at Machadodorp traffic centre consoles family members of some of the people who died in the accident that claimed 18 lives between Badplaas and Machadodorp. PHOTO: ANA Reporter

“We are here to make sure that the homes of those who were working in that mine are not forgotten. This is because some employers forget them. Road accidents are bad and it seems our pleas for safe driving do not come to fruition. Most of these accidents could have been avoided.”

He held a meeting at the Machadodorp local traffic centre with other government officials, some family members of the deceased and family members of some of those who were injured in the accident.  The meeting was part of making arrangements for various things including the memorial service and a mass burial.

A group of other mineworkers, who had just been dropped off by their work transport vehicle near the traffic centre, expressed concern at the accident. Mineworker Sizwe Mngomezulu told ANA he spent good time with three of the six dead mineworkers in Machadodorp on Sunday.

“We were very close and we watched a game of football together on television,” said Mngomezulu. 

“I still can’t believe they are dead.  I will miss them.”

In a statement issued earlier by the department's spokesperson, Joseph Mabuza, said a memorial service for the 18 people would be held tomorrow at the local stadium in Emthonjeni township in Machadodorp. It said one of the workers was buried on Wednesday in Johannesburg.

Six people from Machadodorp would be buried locally on Saturday and the rest would be laid to rest at their respective areas as they originated from KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Free State provinces, added the department.