Thousands attend burial of Moloto road victims
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Pretoria - Thousands of mourners descended on the Matshiding showground in Mpumalanga on Sunday to bid an emotional farewell to the 30 people who died in the horrific bus accident on the notorious Moloto road last week.
A Putco bus, which had left Pretoria at 7pm, carrying workers from parts of Limpopo and the Dr JS Moroka Municipality areas, collided head-on with a truck near Kwaggafontein at about 8.30pm on Monday last week, killing 29 people.
Another person died later in hospital.
Twenty-two people were injured.
The funeral service in Matshiding started at 7am on Sunday and was attended by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Social Development Deputy Minister Maria Ntuli, Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha and ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.
An investigation into the accident is under way.
Most of the deceased were buried at the weekend, with the remainder due to be laid to rest on November 23.
The government is paying for the cost of the funerals.
At the mass funeral service, speakers expressed their condolences to the families and called for urgent measures to put an end to carnage on Moloto road.
Inkosi Sipho Mahlangu spoke on behalf of traditional leaders.
He told the crowd: “Most of us had never seen a tragedy like that before and will most probably never see one again in our lifetimes.”
Mahlangu urged people, sad as they were, not to point fingers.
“To our government, I say enough is enough.
“We have become tired of promises on what would be done to end the Moloto road carnage; now we want to know what is being done,” Mahlangu said.
“(Next year’s) general elections should not come and go without a solution to this problem.”
Pointing to the coffins lined-up in the marquee erected in the middle of the showground, Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha said: “The sight in front of our eyes is not nice.”
“When death strikes, it teaches those who remain that what has happened should have been avoided, and must never happen again,” he said.
Mathabatha said government now had a challenge to prevent similar accidents from happening again in the future.
“Perhaps we should revisit the driver’s licensing system; perhaps the licensing needs to be incorporated into the education system. And perhaps the focus should be more on teaching drivers to respect the rules of the road,” Mathabatha added.
Peters paid tribute to “the breadwinners, mothers, fathers, community advisers and workers, who were contributing to the economy who lost their lives in the accident”.
Peters said that their deaths had left a huge void, not only in their families, but in the South African population as a whole.
According to the minister, the bus accident could have been avoided, since Moloto road was a known problem, and should have been already attended to.
She said that President Jacob Zuma had set up a committee to look into the situation on Moloto road and had given it a mandate to introduce a rail service to compensate existing public transport modes.
Peters, who was jeered by the crowd for speaking in English and not in one of the languages spoken in the area, soon became a darling when she said that R8.7 billion had been set aside for road safety across the country, with about R3.5bn of this being spent on the Moloto road.
Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza said the government would visit the bereaved families to offer the necessary support and to ensure that their interests were properly represented in further dealings with the Road Accident Fund and the bus company.