Picture: Independent Media

Nelspruit - Mpumalanga community safety MEC Pat Ngomane has called on police to consider charging with culpable homicide the owner of three cows that caused an accident in which 11 people died and five others were seriously injured on the R538 between Hazyview and White River on Friday night.

“Even though the police are still investigating, the owner of the cows should also be made to face the consequences of not looking after his or her livestock well," Ngomane said on Saturday.

"Livestock owners have a responsibility over their stock and should therefore not leave their cattle wandering without being attended to,” he said.

The accident happened at about 10.30pm on Friday night when a minibus taxi crashed into three cows and overturned, community safety department spokesman Joseph Mabuza said. The taxi burst into flame after overturning and nine of the dead were burnt beyond recognition.

“Among those who died were three children. The occupants of the minibus were travelling to a church service. The driver was one of those who were seriously injured and they were all taken to Matikwane Hospital. The owner of the cows has not been found but he or she will be found,” Mabuza said.

The community safety department announced on Saturday morning that the death toll was 10, but Mabuza said it was later discovered that the number of bodies collected from the scene was, in fact, 11. He said this was due to the severity of the burns. A case of culpable homicide had been opened for investigation but nobody had yet been charged, he said.

Ngomane appealed to the families of the dead to remain patient as DNA tests to identify the bodies were being conducted. He wished the injured people a speedy recovery and appealed to motorists to drive cautiously, especially during the night and in bad weather conditions. He urged communities in the area who might know the owner of the three cows to report to police.