Putco bus fire that left six dead to be probed – Jacob Mamabolo
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Pretoria - The department of Public Roads and Transport Infrastructure has launched an independent forensic investigation into the burning of a Putco bus that left six people dead and several others in need of urgent medical attention on Friday.
MEC Jacob Mamabolo made the announcement yesterday when he visited Steve Biko Academic Hospital where one of the victims – a young female who suffered serious burns and smoke inhalation when the fire erupted on the notorious Moloto Road – is being treated.
The bus, travelling from Marabastad, was carrying 63 passengers and headed for Tweefontein in Mpumalanga when smoke erupted, prompting passengers to escape the bus to save their lives as it started burning.
With thousands of people expected to resume commuting to work with Putco buses today, Mamabolo said he would challenge Putco to make an announcement to their passengers; if their buses were safe, and to also ensure that this was the case.
Putco spokesperson Matlakala Motloung told Pretoria News that Putco had appointed independent investigators and fire experts to look at this issue and report back on what happened, because they did not know what could have caused the fire as the bus recently had a major service.
It had been serviced on April 27 and received a roadworthy certificate, he said.
However, Mamabolo said the department was aware Putco was investigating the matter, but they were not going to depend on it, and they would rely on their own independent investigation, which will give recommendations that will be followed by the government.
He said: “By Friday I should have appointed an investigator because this is an emergency. Immediately after I was appointed as MEC in 2019 there was a month when we had a lot of accidents on Moloto Road involving Putco buses, and we had a meeting and agreed with them on what they should do to improve.”
He said he would have a meeting with Putco management to discuss that they cannot continue having their buses on the roads if there are frequent incidents of fire.
Sam Masanga, leader of a group of people from three Mpumalanga municipalities, who have been camping outside the Union Buildings calling for the Moloto Rail Corridor, said they were devastated by what happened, especially because they have been complaining about Putco buses for a very long time.