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Oudtshoorn - “My child stopped screaming. People were falling on top of me and I could not see her anymore.”
This was the last image 39-year-old Mothemba Magangxa recalls before she realised her 3-year-old daughter, along with 10 other passengers, had died in a bus accident on Thursday.
It was only when she was treated in hospital for her own injuries that she realised that her husband would also now never meet his daughter. They would have met for the first time in Queenstown on Thursday.
The Intercape bus they were travelling on, en route from Cape Town to Queenstown, crashed about 25km outside Oudtshoorn early on Thursday morning.
Of the 52 people on board 11 passengers, including two young children, died. A further 39 were injured, of whom 22 sustained serious injuries and were hospitalised. Two passengers, including a child with a broken arm, were transferred to a George hospital. The bus driver, co-driver and hostess survived the accident.
The 25-year-old driver is facing 11 counts of culpable homicide after he was arrested at 3pm on Thursday. He is due to appear in the Oudtshoorn Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
Magangxa, a domestic worker from Cape Town, and her toddler were on their way to Queenstown for her brother-in-law’s funeral.
It would also have been the first opportunity for her husband Wehinton Nolzweni, who lives and works in the Eastern Cape, to meet his daughter. “I don’t even have a picture of her. We wanted to take one together of all of us at the funeral,” Magangxa said from the Oudtshoorn Provincial Hospital.
“She (her daughter) was sleeping on my lap. The bus suddenly started swerving and she fell off. I tried to catch her but the bus swerved again and she fell deeper back under the seat. I tried to reach for her and the bus made a screeching sound and then fell over. I could not reach my child and she stopped screaming.”
Eunice Tshangana from Queenstown had been on her way to Cape Town to see an oncology specialist to discuss her cancer treatment.
“All I know is the bus was going very, very fast. I woke up because the bus was suddenly reversing. Then the bus turned away from Uniondale towards Oudtshoorn and it was going very fast. The bus was zigzagging over the road and then I heard a screeching noise and the bus just fell over,” Tshangana said.
“There was nothing to hold on to. I felt like doll being shaken around.”
Also among the passengers were two friends – both in their twenties – from the UK holidaying in South Africa for six days.
They did not want to be named as they claimed an Intercape representative had offered to pay for their treatment at a private hospital and their flight back to the UK. “We don’t want to jeopardise this,” one woman said.
Intercape spokesman Advocate Roeline van der Walt did not want to comment on the tourists’ claims, but confirmed the details of the accident.
The bus crashed on an infamous stretch of road called Perdeskoendraai at about 1.50am after the driver lost control of the vehicle.
“Emergency services were immediately contacted and the police and ambulance services arrived at about 2am,” Van der Walt said.
“The cause of the accident is still unknown and investigations are under way.”
Intercape’s record showed that a roadworthy test had been performed on the bus on February 7 this year and was valid until August. A brake test had also been done only three days before the crash.
Garden Route Media