7 kids killed in Imbali crash

2015-01-29 00:00

BLOODIED school bags and heaps of rubble surrounded little bodies after an horrific ­accident in Imbali left 17 children injured and six dead at the scene.

A seventh died later in hospital, where others remained in critical condition last night.

From the number of dead and injured listed by police, it appears that the bakkie was ferrying 23 school children home from Fezokhule Primary in Imbali when it crashed into a house.

A police source who could not be named said the bakkie left the road as the driver attempted to take a sharp corner at the bottom of a steep hill.

The policeman said it was suspected that the bakkie then hit a bank and “ramped” through the boundary wall into the house.

“She tried to take the corner but the back wheels slid and it was just too late,” he said.

The two front rooms of the house were left in a pile of rubble with the bakkie lying on its side.

The driver, a woman, who is apparently ­well known in the community as a transporter of children, was among the injured.

A firefighter said she was trapped in the ­vehicle when he reached the scene.

“We had to use the jaws of life to get her out. She was critical,” he said.

According to a paramedic who could not be named, seven of the 23 children were critically injured while the rest sustained serious injuries.

As the K9 search and rescue unit dug through the heaps of concrete and wooden beams, school shoes and blood-soaked school bags were pulled from the wreckage.

Black clouds hanging over the scene spat drops of rain as sobs rose from the crowd of people lining the yellow police cordon.

A mother of two of the children who had been travelling in the bakkie broke through the crowd, sobbing loudly as she waited to hear from police if they were among the dead.

Nomusa Njoko was only slightly relieved not to see her son and daughter’s faces when she looked through photographs of the dead ­because she did not know how badly they were injured.

Imbali resident Sibusisiwe Makhanya said her sister’s six-year-old child also used the same transport.

“I began to be worried when the time was 2.30 pm and the babies still had not arrived. Close friends from Unit 18 alerted me to the accident and I rushed from BB section to see for myself.”

Makhanya was unaware of the child’s fate ­because the injured had already been taken to hospital.

The owner of the destroyed house, Lungile Ngubeni, arrived at the scene after being called from work and collapsed, sobbing loudly as she stared at the wreck that was once her home.

Close neighbours of Ngubeni told The Witness that they heard a massive bang followed by loud cries from children.

One, who asked not to be named, said she called other neighbours to help those still stuck in the wreckage.

While she assisted one, the others screamed, “Help me gogo, I’m injured”.

Ngubane’s neighbour Joe Madonsela expressed his anger at the lack of barriers and signage along the road.

“She was carrying too many children and it has cost six children’s lives,” he said.

Madonsela added that he had approached the ward councillor and told him that speed humps should be built on the hill to slow cars down.

“I have asked him to put up humps, but he hasn’t and look at what has happened,” he said.

Ward 15 councillor Vusumuzi Mlete, who was at the scene, said he was aware of complaints regarding the road.

“The community complained last year about the steep road and I addressed that complaint to the municipality,” ha said.

“Last week Friday we had a meeting about the mid-term budget which included the road in Unit 18.”

The cause of the accident is being ­investigated.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

• siso.naile@witness.co.za

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