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‘Greyhound bus company did not show remorse or respect to families,’ crash survivor says

The Greyhound bus that crashed on Tuesday night on the N1, near Richmond, in the Northern Cape. Picture: Margie Williams Twitter

The Greyhound bus that crashed on Tuesday night on the N1, near Richmond, in the Northern Cape. Picture: Margie Williams Twitter

Published Jun 30, 2022

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Durban - About two months after Greyhound bus liners resumed its operations on South African roads, a major accident involving one of its buses and a van occurred in the Northern Cape, claiming six lives.

But one passenger, who was aboard the bus when it crashed and overturned on the N1, just outside Richmond on Tuesday, says it was more human error than an accident.

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Sphamandla Zondi‬, from Cape Town, was on board the bus – heading from Durban to Cape Town, with 28 souls on board, including him.

Zondi said, prior to the accident, the bus experienced mechanical difficulties, which caused a delay of around eight hours.

After sorting out the problems just before 8pm on Tuesday night, Zondi said he was seated on the top level of the double-decker bus, when tragedy struck.

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“The bus was supposed to leave Durban at 11.35 but it ended up leaving at 12pm. When we got to Bethlehem at 8pm, the bus started having AirBag problems, which led to the bus not being able to move, as the front part of the bus was scratching on the road. We had to wait from 8pm to 1am for the mechanic to arrive, and we could only move at 4am.

“That's eight wasted hours already,” Zondi said.

“After around 2pm, when the mechanic finished with the tyre, another problem surfaced – the bus did not want to start. We told the driver to please request for a new bus because it was clear the bus would never make it to Cape Town, the driver then said it is management who will decide, as he cant make orders for a new bus, and there is nothing he can do, he is also waiting for response from management.

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“At 7.50pm exactly, on the N1 at Richmond, is when the bus hit an incoming white vehicle (bakkie). I was seated in the front seat on the top deck. The bus driver was overtaking a truck with a red container. When the bus had to move to its lane, the truck accelerated and the bus could not make it. It happened so fast, as I was watching this happen – the bus driver hit the brake to move away from the bakkie’s direction but unfortunately it was too late, as they crashed head-on, causing the bus to overturn under the bridge at Richmond.

“It is 20 hours now since the accident. Up until now no passengers received any calls/message of apologies from GreyhoundRSA. For GreyhoundRSA not to even show remorse and respect to the families, we haven't even got a word from anyone from the company since yesterday, Tuesday, June 28, 2022,” Zondi said.

The SAPS in the Northern Cape said they are investigating a case of culpable homicide.

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Police said the bus collided with a Toyota Hilux bakkie about 5km outside Richmond.

The bakkie was carrying 10 passengers, six of whom died at the scene.

“Both the drivers were removed from the vehicles with the jaws of life. The driver of the bakkie passed on and the bus driver was admitted to hospital with serious injuries.

“The co-driver of the bus and most of the 28 passengers received medical treatment on the scene, as they had slight injuries, while others escaped unscathed,” police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Sergio Kock said.

IOL spoke to Greyhound on Thursday about the crash and what state the bus was in prior to its departure.

Greyhound spokesperson Leslie Matthews said all buses go through a predetermined test to ensure roadworthiness, which is done by the company’s technical/maintenance staff.

The current fleet of buses, used by Greyhound, was acquired from Unitrans.

“There was an air suspension issue, which caused one of the tyres to have friction on the wheel arch of the bus. This was then fixed by our technical team. A new tyre replaced the damaged one and the bus was perfect to continue the journey.

The damaged tyre which the Greyhound bus service had to fix prior to the bus crashing on the N1, Richmond, Northern Cape. Image: Supplied.

“The accident is as a result of the actions of a third party, outside of our control. We are awaiting reports from the authorities before we are able to comment further. Greyhound management are in contact with the relevant authorities to this end. The loss of lives is deeply tragic.

“Once Authorities have compiled their reports, we plan to reach out to the deceased’s next of kin. Again, we reiterate that the loss of lives is deeply tragic,” Matthews said.

IOL

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