Durban - Ntuzuma residents, angered by a horror crash in which four children were killed and 16 injured, have taken matters into their own hands, digging out a reverse “speed hump” to slow down traffic.
They broke the tar with picks and removed the road surface all the way across, using police spray paint markings as reference, where debris from the wreckage of the taxi - which collided with a bus - had landed on the road.
The taxi driver is accused of speeding away from a taxi association checkpoint to escape being penalised for overloading. It’s believed he was ferrying 20 passengers when the legal limit is 15. It is also alleged that the bus he collided with was straddling lanes.
The children, aged between 13 and 17, were on their way to their first day at school on Wednesday.
On Thursday a group of men stationed themselves on either side of Ingcebo Road, helping children to cross and shouting warnings at drivers they thought were speeding.
“Drivers treat this road like a freeway,” one said.
“We have had enough and since the municipality won’t do it for us, we are going to put our own speed humps,” said another.
Meanwhile, Batha Magazi, the daughter of the taxi owner, Buyisiwe Magazi, said her mother had keeled over and was physically ill when she was told of the tragic news. Her condition had worsened overnight prompting a visit to the doctor on Thursday.
Magazi had rushed to the scene but drove back home to fetch something to cover the bodies of the dead children, as onlookers started taking photos.
“Ma already seemed like she was losing her mind, she insisted we only take white sheets to cover the bodies.”
By the time Magazi returned to the scene, paramedics had arrived. As they worked on the injured, Magazi said the community turned on the driver.
“Even when the police came, people were grabbing at him.”
'No one wakes up and plans to kill schoolchildren'
The driver had worked for her family on and off for years, she said. He had been the one to inform Batha that her taxi-owner brother had been shot in his driveway in 2008.
Her mother took over the three taxis and on the morning of the crash - as on every morning - had herself given the driver the key.
He also lived near the Magazi home and the families were close.
“It’s a shame that so many stories are already going around," said Magazi. "There are many contributing factors and we are not saying he was not at fault, but no one wakes up and plans to kill schoolchildren.”
She said their family was also grieving at the loss of young lives and would make contact with the families of the dead children after the funerals, assisted by the Ntuzuma Taxi Association.
Meanwhile, Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Simon Zwane said the two investigators sent from Gauteng by the RTMC would work alongside police to determine the cause of the crash. Their inquiry would include witness accounts, analysis of road conditions and inspection of the vehicles.
He said the RTMC sent investigators to “major crashes” which were either high profile, or involved a large number of vehicles or fatalities.
“Once the investigation is concluded," he said, "it will be handed over to the investigating officer.”
Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said where there were fatalities on the road - such as in this case - it was only after an investigation was concluded that the case file was taken to the public prosecutor for a decision on whether and whom to prosecute.