North West premier Thandi Modise File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Rustenburg - North West Premier Thandi Modise expressed sadness on Friday over the death of three children killed when a train crashed into a car at a railway crossing in Rustenburg.

“Drivers who ignore rules of the road and warnings not to beat trains at level crossings are still putting lives of passengers at risk,” Modise said in a statement.

The children were killed on Thursday, when a Toyota Avanza, carrying 12 children between Zinniaville and Rustenburg Noord, allegedly decided to pass other motorists who were waiting at the train crossing to allow an oncoming train to pass, Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone said.

“The vehicle got stuck on the railway level crossing and the oncoming train hit and dragged it resulting in the immediate death of an eight-year-old boy on the spot,” he said.

Two other children died on arrival at the Job Shimkane Tabane hospital, while the other injured children were admitted into hospital.

The condition of the children ranged from moderate to critical, said Netcare 911 spokeswoman Santi Steinmann at the time.

Modise called on road traffic management authorities to clamp down on reckless driving, overloading, and illegal learner transportation.

She had also urged parents to ensure that their children were transported in properly licensed vehicles and to ensure that they travelled in vehicles that were not over-packed.

Parliament's portfolio committee on transport on Friday called upon the department of transport to expedite the finalisation of the policy on scholar transport and finalise the process of taking over the function of scholar transport from the department of basic education.

“The country cannot tolerate a situation where erratic behaviour of drivers results in deaths of vulnerable kids,” said committee chairwoman Ruth Bhengu.

Bhengu said that the policy should no be limited to an administration process, but should also investigate the safety features of vehicles transporting pupils, including first aid service and fire extinguishers.

Mokgwabone said that police were investigating a case of culpable homicide and why the vehicle was illegally ferrying passengers.

He said the driver faced an additional charge of reckless and negligent driving and that police were also considering charging the driver with overloading and contravening the National Road Traffic Act.