Reed dance: driver probed

2013-09-03 00:00

THE driver of the ill-fated bus that crashed near Eshowe was pulled from behind the wheel while making his way out of the royal grounds. The vehicle was transporting young girls and their caretakers back to uMzumbe Municipality after the annual Reed Dance Festival at kwaNongoma.

He was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol.

Now the replacement driver, who is recovering from injuries in an Eshowe hospital, is being investigated for allegedly speeding, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu said yesterday.

He said that a full forensic investigation into the accident would help them piece the incident together, including whether the brakes on the bus were working properly.

The bus transporting 64 passengers was travelling on the R66 when it overturned close to Kwalini, outside Eshowe, around 5 pm on Sunday.

Mchunu said according to initial reports the weather was clear, and there were no obstructions on the road to hamper driving conditions.

Rescue workers battled for hours to assist the injured girls — many still dressed in traditional gear — especially those trapped under the bus.

Seven young girls and two caregivers died at the scene, while 13 other young women were critically injured, and 25 sustained minor injuries.

Counting themselves fortunate were the 17 youngsters who escaped injury altogether.

The rescue operation continued until 9.30 pm, when the road was finally cleared.

The wreckage of the bus was impounded and will now be subjected to scrutiny.

Messages from the Presidency and political parties in the province, as well as Education MEC Senzo Mchunu yesterday added to the messages of condolences and support for the affected families.

MEC Willies Mchunu said 181 people had died on KZN roads in July alone, while August had claimed 158 lives. He said most of the accidents were caused by human error.

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