Cape Town – The danger construction workers face daily with regard to transport has come under the spotlight after 10 people were killed when the bakkie they were travelling in overturned on Ou Kaapse Weg.
Fourteen were injured in the incident. The open-topped bakkie had 23 people on the back.
The driver is believed to have lost control of the vehicle, which overturned several times while approaching Steenberg at about 2am on Saturday.
The vehicle is believed to have had faulty brakes.
The driver is under police guard in Groote Schuur Hospital. A worker pointed him out to police after it was suspected he fled the scene.
Yesterday, police spokesperson André Traut said the police were investigating a case of culpable homicide.
ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said that when paramedics arrived at the scene, they found nine men dead.
“Three men sustained serious injuries and 11 sustained minor to moderate injuries,” said Vermaak.
One man died in hospital.
Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said: “We seriously condemn this tragic accident that saw so many people killed, while others were seriously injured.
Africa said that, legally, people on the back of a bakkie had to be at least 350mm from the sides and could not stand or sit beyond this line.
If they stood, the sides and rear had to be at least 900mm high, Africa added
AA spokesperson Layton Beard warned construction companies and drivers not to be flippant when it came to the lives of workers.
“We are deeply concerned, as the AA, that all too often there are still people standing or seated on the back of bakkies and on top of the side walls of bakkies.
"This practice is completely unlawful, and yet it is rarely enforced.
“There are regulations in place that state the number of people that should be seated behind a bakkie, and we are utterly shocked that so many people were in that bakkie, which also seemed like it didn’t have a canopy.
"We are calling for a full investigation, because someone, either the company or the driver, needs to account for this tragic accident,” said Beard.
Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, who visited the injured men in hospital, also called for heads to roll.
“Transporting so many people in a small open-topped bakkie is illegal and very dangerous, especially during those hours.
“This was just playing with people’s lives, and also placed the lives of other motorists at risk as the brakes were not working.”