Johannesburg - Two survivors of the bus crash that claimed the lives of 15 people and left others in critical conditions say they are grateful to be alive.
The bus that was on its way to Centurion collided with a truck which came from the opposite direction on the M17 road near Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria.
The cause of the accident remains unknown at this point.
Forty-three-year-old Sanah Motsamai* from Zone 6 in Ga-Rankuwa is one of the survivors of the crash.
Motsamai struggled to talk about the accident without tears filling her eyes.
Although Motsamai suffered minor cuts to both her legs, the experience seems to have had a more traumatic impact than her physical injuries. She said she did not remember what happened, but recalled hearing a deafening bang.
“The only thing I remember is the lights going off and the bus becoming pitch black.
“Everything happened so fast. Seeing all those dead bodies piled up on top of each other and hearing others scream, is the worst experience I had to witness in my entire life,” said Motsamai.
She said the experience was more painful because the deceased were people she knew and rode the morning bus with daily.
She said she did not know how to deal with the trauma or if she would be able to sleep peacefully from now on.
"When I struggled to get out of the seat, I saw someone’s leg detached from their body.
“I kept asking myself who it belonged to and if the person was still alive.
“I’m traumatised by this experience,” she said.
Another victim, 27-year-old Keabetswe Chira from Zone 1, said he thanked God for sparing his life.
The sedated Chira found it challenging to speak.
He spoke in a whisper, trying to narrate what happened, but did so with difficulty.
“I suffered severe injuries on all my limbs. The pain is unbearable. It feels like someone is cutting through something. However, the doctor said there was hope for me even though the bones would take time to heal. I’m thankful to God and my mother’s prayers. I think that is what saved me today,” said Chira.
Similar to Motsamai, Chira has no recollection of how the accident occurred.
He said he only remembers getting on a bus and waking up surrounded by the hospital staff in casualty calling out his name.
“I usually sleep when I get on the bus.
“I could not understand what was happening when I woke up in the hospital.
“All I could feel was the pain piercing through my body,” he said.
Chira complained of feeling cold.
At that time, he was covered in two thin layered hospital sheets from the neck down.
On Chira’s left side was an older woman, who was also injured in the accident.
The swelling on the unidentified woman's left eye left it wholly shut.
In a terrified voice, the woman yelled, “I think I have glass in my eye”.
Chira’s mother, Francina Kgomo, was one of the first people to arrive on the scene. Chira and Kgomo travel together in the morning. However, Kgomo commutes to Midrand on a different bus.
“Kea’s bus was five minutes ahead of ours.
“They left us at the bus stop, and we were met with a horrible accident a few minutes later.
“All I wanted to know at the time was where my son was.
“As soon as our bus stopped, I ran to the other bus and tried to help people as I was looking for my son.
“I called his name. I could hear him saying ‘mama nthuse’ (‘mom, please help me’).
“I thought he was going to die as I struggled to get him out of the wreckage,” said Kgomo.
Trying to come to terms with her son’s injuries, Kgomo voiced her disappointment in a doctor from Steve Biko Academic Hospital whom she alleges turned some of the survivors away.
“When we left the scene, officials said they were taking Kea to Steve Biko or Kalafong hospital.
“I asked them where exactly they were taking him, and they said Steve Biko (Academic) Hospital.
“On my way there, I received a call saying the doctor said the hospital was full and he did not want them there," said Chira’s mother.
According to officials, 57 people were hurt in the crash, 32 survivors were rushed to George Mukhari Hospital.
Four were discharged, while the rest were still receiving medical attention.
The deceased were 10 women and five men.
The distraught Kgomo said she hoped the Health Department would take action against the doctor.
Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) said investigations into the cause of the accident were under way.
Issac Mahamba, the TMPD spokesperson, said they were also trying to trace the trucking company.
“It will be challenging to trace the trucking company at the moment because the driver is deceased,” said Mahamba.
In addition, Gauteng MEC of Transport, Jacob Mamabolo, said a report on the cause of the crash would be made available to families once investigations are concluded.
Mamabolo met with some of the survivors at George Mukhari Hospital and promised to visit the families of those who lost their lives.
* not her real name