Zimbabwe's Consul General Henry Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, Limpopo MEC for Safety and Transport Makoma Makhurupetse, MEC for Health, Dr. Phophi Ramathuba, acting chief director for transport Tshiwandalani Matsila at the Petersburg provincial hospital in Limpopo during the handing over of nine bodies of Zimbabweans who died last week in a road accident. PHOTO: Supplied

Pretoria - The bodies of nine Zimbabweans who were killed in a bus accident in Limpopo province were on Thursday officially handed over to representatives of their government at an event held at the Petersburg provincial hospital.

"It was an emotional and sad event indeed. It was also very emotional to the families who have lost their beloved ones. The people perished in an accident on Friday morning, about 20 kilometres from Polokwane city in a place called Westernberg," Zimbabwe's Consul General Henry Mukonoweshuro said speaking to African News Agency (ANA).

Mukonoweshuro thanked the South African government, and its agencies like the Road Accident Fund for assisting the bereaved families, and the injured.

"We are grateful that the South African government, through the Road Accident Fund provided coffins and all funeral services through engagement of three funeral parlours. They continue to meet the costs of those still hospitalised. Intercape [the bus company] also gave some consolation money and were also providing food and transportation of the deceased's families. They have also provided a bus to the relatives," said Mukonoweshuro. 

"The Zimbabwe government, through the Civil Protection Unit did provide some money and food to the deceased's families when they got into the country. Both countries also arranged for the safe passage of the remains and the relatives."

The bus was carrying 61 occupants including the driver and crew. 

The event on Thursday was attended by senior Limpopo provincial health and traffic authorities including member of the executive council (MEC) for Community Safety and Transport, Makoma Makhurupetse, MEC for Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, acting chief director for transport Tshiwandalani Matsila.

Another international coach also crashed in Limpopo province last week, killing at least 11 Zambian nationals who were travelling from their country. Many were injured.

Mukonoweshuro said given the frequent bus accidents, it would be proper to tighten the rules on the movement of buses.

"There is a need for caution and ensuring that drivers are relieved and well rested. There is also a need to ensure that drivers are in good health. We might need to look at the times these public transport [buses] are on the road. Maybe they need to avoid night driving."

The Zimbabwean driver is facing culpable homicide charges after the crash was denied bail in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Police spokesman Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said George Themba, who hails from Harare also faces an additional charge of negligent and reckless driving. His case was postponed to next month.

The 41-year-old bus driver was admitted to a hospital following Friday's horrific accident where nine people perished and 51 others were injured when he lost control of the bus and it overturned. The bus was travelling along the N1 highway to Gauteng. 

The man was arrested on Monday as he tried to flee to Zimbabwe following his discharge from the hospital. Police found him hiding in a trailer transporting goods, headed to Zimbabwe.

African News Agency/ANA