Three die in crash at Kranskop

2012-08-30 00:00

PASSENGERS clung to their seats and to one another and prayed desperately as the bus they were travelling on careered down a hill on the R74 outside Kranskop yesterday.

Speaking from Umphumulo Hospital, Themba Mkhombe (29) thanked God he made it out alive after the bus rolled, claiming the lives of three of his Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) colleagues.

Mkhombe, who escaped with scratches, said they left the Pietermaritzburg SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) office in the morning, and were heading to Greytown and Kranskop to re-register social grant beneficiaries for new cards.

He recalled how his colleagues screamed as the bus slid on the road.

“The road wasn’t good. We knew there was something wrong when the bus began screeching and moving at a fast pace. We started screaming and some were asking the driver what was going on,” he said.

Mkhombe said the disaster could have been worse had the driver not avoided a cliff. He remembered seeing two colleagues lying on the road, covered with plastic, after the bus rolled. Another died later in hospital.

Simphiwe Khumalo (27), who escaped unscathed, said he tightened his grip on his seat when the bus started to slant. “People were crying. Some were crying for their children, others for their mothers. You could hear people calling ‘Jesus’ and others ‘Shembe’. It will take me a while to forget this day,” Khumalo added.

“I thought to myself ‘If we fall over a cliff, we’re gone.’”

Once the bus came to rest, they broke windows to free themselves before the police and ambulances arrived at the scene.

“Those of us with minor injuries assisted those with bad injuries,” said Khumalo. Road Traffic Inspectorate spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu said the bus driver lost control of the vehicle after his brakes failed him.

Other reports were that the driver was avoiding goats on the road when he lost control. Mngomezulu said two passengers were in critical states last night, eight were serious and 40 sustained minor injuries.

ER24, Netcare911 and provincial paramedics responded to the scene.

Some passengers told The Witness that the bus, certified to carry 65 people, was overloaded after some from another bus were transferred.

“In Kranskop, we were removed from our bus because the driver said his bus was not suited to driving on gravel as the brakes were not okay,” said Sibongile Mnguni (39), who suffered a broken rib.

“The road was steep and the corners were sharp. I said to two people who were sleeping next to me, ‘Wake up, you will die sleeping. Look at how fast this bus is going.’

“As soon as I said that, the accident happened,” Mnguni said.

Thandisa Sithole (23), who had cuts to her face, said she was seated near the middle of the bus.

“After it had come to a sharp bend, I felt it tip over and I remember it sliding down the road. I managed to climb out with the help of people who had been going by,” she said.

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