Overloaded taxi in fiery crash

2010-04-27 00:00

SIXTEEN passengers were burnt to death when an overloaded minibus taxi was involved in a head-on collision with a truck in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday morning.

The accident happened on the R612 Breamer Link Road between Scottburgh and Ixopo at about 5 am yesterday.

The 16 commuters who died in the Toyota Quantum taxi were four women, 10 men and a person whose gender was not determined.

Their bodies were burnt beyond recognition.

The sight left motorists and pedestrians shocked.

Road Traffic Inspectorate spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu said the taxi driver died on arrival at the GJ Crooks Hospital in Scottburgh.

Another three taxi passengers were admitted to the same hospital, where they were treated and released.

Mngomezulu said it is suspected that the taxi, which was travelling to Durban, left its lane and veered into oncoming traffic.

It collided with a truck, which was travelling towards Ixopo in the midlands, before it caught fire.

“It is clear that one of the vehicles was in the wrong. It also seems that the taxi left its lane [and veered] into the oncoming traffic.

“We also established that the Quantum had a load of 19 passengers, when it was supposed to carry only 14,” Mngomezulu said.

She said that when she arrived at the scene about two hours after the accident, she saw the burnt bodies still trapped inside the shell of the taxi. A fire engine and a number of vehicles fromthe police and the traffic department attended the scene, she added.

“It took about two hours for the bodies to be retrieved from the taxi,” Mngomezulu said.

The clearing of the scene continued up until about 4 pm.

Reacting to the accident, Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele said his department will deal harshly with bad drivers and that “ineffectual” traffic law enforcement will be replaced with Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences.

“The current traffic law enforcement is not effective and, if we want to stop counting bodies on the road every day, we have to change it,” Ndebele said.

 

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