Durban - “The people who died here all lived in one house, that house will be closed now.”
That was the heartbreaking reaction of Roland Harry, a close relative of members of the Mahabeer family who perished in a horror accident on Sunday night. The family is from Northdale in Pietermaritzburg.
Eight family members, aged between 4 and 52 were wiped out when a car they were travelling in, a Golf 1, collided head on with a Ford Ranger on the N2 near Umzumbe.
The driver of the Ford Ranger has been arrested, accused of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Among those who died are three adults, Veroshnie Ramparsad, her husband Mitchell Roland Mahabeer, her mother Loraine, and Mitchell’s brother Jesse.
Veroshnie's four children Isabella, Titus, Hannah and Liya, aged between 4 and 12, also died.
Pictures of the accident scene showed the impact of the collision. The front of the white single cab Ford Ranger was destroyed and the VW was completely mangled, signalling the force of the impact.
The family was coming back from a weekend break on the South Coast where they had been visiting other family members.
The news of the death shocked many of the couple's friend who expressed their condolences on Veroshnie’s facebook page.
Harry said the broader family was devastated and hoped that the law would take its course.
“Our family is taking this very badly,” he said.
They had learnt of the accident around 9pm on Sunday but could not get to the scene at night as the section of freeway way closed. They only got their on Monday morning.
The shattered wreck of the VW Golf in which the eight family members were travelling. Picture: Arrive Alive
"There was nothing left of the car my cousins were travelling in. There is no way anyone could have survived that collision,” he said.
"Where the accident happened, the section of the freeway has no centre median," he said.
He described the deceased as good people. “They were very good, hard-working people. Today was supposed to be a normal day for them, they were supposed to be going back to work and the children would have been going to school,” said Harry.
MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda said in a statement he has instructed a team of forensic experts to fast-track investigations.
"The driver of the bakkie escaped the crash unharmed, but was found to have consumed alcohol exceeding the legal limit. He was apprehended on scene and taken to Hibberdene SAPS where appropriate charges will be drawn against him," said Kaunda in a statement.
“It is always worrying to experience a loss of so many lives in one crash. It is mostly disturbing to note that four of the deceased are children," he continued.
Kaunda decried continued disregard for life shown by drivers who drink and drive or speed.
“On behalf of the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal, we wish to send our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the deceased,” he said.
SAPS spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said charges of culpable homicide and drunken driving are being investigated by Southport SAPS.
“A 63-year-old driver was placed under arrest for driving under the influence of liquor and culpable homicide," she said.
Gwala said the driver was expected to appear in the Port Shepstone Magistrate's Court on Monday. It was not immediately clear whether he had appeared.
Yoogen Keegen Naicker said on Facebook, "Condolences to the family. What a shock this is. What happened to them?”
Veetesh Maharaj said, "Just heard the terrible news. Rip my dear friend. May god bless you and your lovely families souls."
Jermaine Joseph said, "This is so sad that her post came up and they no longer with us. May their souls rest in peace."