Owner of Cedarville death plunge bus says his heart is bleeding

2008-06-04 00:00

“I am so sorry … very sorry … I can’t even sleep at night. My heart bleeds. I’m constantly in agony that rips my heart apart. I don’t know what to do.”

This is the lament of the owner of the bus that plunged into a gorge in Cedarville, killing 22 people and leaving 30 injured last week.

Bus owner Winston Rawlins said the media are reporting falsely that the bus was unroadworthy, without getting his side of the story.

“The bus service record is there for anyone to see. It has been serviced all the time and there is no way I could have put the lives of passengers at risk,” said Rawlins.

“I am a priest and I wish I could share the pain in my heart with you,” said Rawlins in a trembling voice.

There have been reports that his bus was faulty and that people of Mvenyane village have complained to him about the condition of his buses, but that he neglected them.

“How could I let so many people die, people whom I have served for 37 years?” he said.

Rawlins said the worst part is that people are making damaging allegations about him when the results of the investigation are not available.

He believes there is jealousy behind the issue because his fares are cheaper than others.

“This is not the first time I have experienced hard times like this,” said Rawlins. A year ago one of his buses was burnt in mysterious circumstances. It was later found that a jealous arson attack was the cause.

He said he had wanted to attend the funeral, but that he feared for his life owing to skewed media reports.

His brother’s son, Mark Rawlins, mechanical supervisor of the bus company, said he was surprised that people were criticising the condition of the bus and not the state of roads.

“The bus was semi-subsidised by government and everything was checked and was in order,” said Mark.

He, too, said taxi operators do not like the company, because its fares are cheaper.

Superintendent Zandra Wiid said police are still waiting for a mechanical expert’s report on the condition of the bus.

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