Parliament investigating if a pupil died in taxi crash in front of gates after confusion
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Cape Town - Parliament said it was now investigating whether a pupil died when a minibus taxi, carrying 22 pupils, crashed into a bollard in front of Parliament, after allegedly disregarding a red traffic light on Friday.
Soon after the accident, the presiding officers of Parliament, led by the speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Amos Masondo conveyed "heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the pupil who tragically died" as a result of the crash.
When the Cape Argus enquired about whether a pupil had died, the police, Western Cape Education Department (WCED), and Western Cape Health Department's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) said they did not record any death from the accident, and said pupils were transported to hospital.
City traffic spokesperson Richard Coleman said 22 schoolchildren were injured, 11 of whom sustained serious injuries.
Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said the injured victims were transported to different hospitals on Friday morning and are still in hospital.
"At this stage, we can report that we have not received any confirmation of any fatalities," said Swartbooi.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said she was deeply distressed by the incident that happened outside Parliament, involving pupils on their way to school.
Schäfer said the WCED was notified of a vehicle accident in the centre of town. She said the pupils were reportedly from 12 different schools, largely within the city bowl and Walmer Estate areas. Their ages range from six to 14 years of age.
She said more than 20 pupils and two adults were in the minibus taxi when it crashed. This indicates that the taxi was overloaded.
“The injuries of the pupils range from serious to minor, with pupils being sent to Red Cross Hospital, Somerset Hospital, Green Point Clinic, and District Six clinic,” she said.
Schäfer said some of the principals were on the scene and have accompanied pupils to various hospitals and clinics.
She said the parents of the pupils were notified. The WCED metro central specialised support team was on standby for assistance with requests for counselling and psychological support.
“While we do not know the exact cause of the accident. Upon further investigation, we have been advised the driver is allegedly an unlicensed driver, the vehicle is allegedly not licensed, and there is allegedly no operating license,” said Schäfer.
She said the images of the accident were horrific.
“We have been in contact with our colleagues from the Department of Transport and Public Works regarding the investigation of these matters and what action can be taken,” said Schäfer.
She said their pupils' lives matter. Their safety matters. That kind of reckless and irresponsible behaviour by the driver and/or owners of the vehicle must not go unpunished.