Two children killed in accidents involving minibus taxis

2010-04-20 00:00

 

TWO pupils aged seven and nine were killed in two road accidents involving minibus taxis in the midlands yesterday.

The first accident claimed the life of Athabile Nokhalipha (7), while she was crossing the R33 near Cramond on her way to school. She was hit by a Toyota Quantum taxi.

The other pupil was killed at about 1.45 pm in Taylor’s Halt while she was being rushed to hospital after being hit by a bakkie in Elandskop.

The Taylor’s Halt accident also left about 20 commuters of a minibus taxi and their driver injured.

It was not clear how many people were with the child in the bakkie. The driver and a woman, who is believed to be the girl’s grandmother, were among the injured.

The taxi and bakkie collided on the bridge over Hlambamasoka stream. The rails prevented the taxi from falling into the stream.

It is alleged that the bakkie, which had just struck the pupil about 10 km away, was rushing her to Edendale Hospital when it collided with the taxi.

“The bakkie was trying to overtake a small car when we [the taxi] approached from the opposite direction. The bakkie and the small vehicle ended up racing, as the small car was not allowing the bakkie to overtake,” said taxi conductor Philani Mkhize.

The taxi, with15 passengers, was travelling from the city to Mafakatini. “I just cried ‘awe ma’ before I heard the big bang,” said Mkhize, whose face and head were covered in flour from broken grocery bags.

He said that after the taxi was stopped by the rails he got out to pull the driver and three passengers out.

Police officers said the child was declared dead on arrival at Edendale Hospital.

The scene of the Taylor’s Halt accident was strewn with bloody tissues, broken glass from the shattered windscreens of both vehicles and scattered groceries.

Among the injured were children, some only six months old, and elderly people.

The dead child’s grandmother was heard groaning in pain while being given first aid on the back of the bakkie. Ambulances had to return more than once to take patients to hospital.

Those who had sustained slight injuries were taken to hospital in a Health Department bus.

Traffic to and from town came to a stop as paramedics and police worked on the patients.

An elderly woman, Sana Thabethe (65), sustained injuries on her knees and feet.

Thabethe said she had been crushed by the seats.

“My feet cannot move, and I’m feeling severe pains,” said Thabethe, who was returning from a doctor.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said he is not sure whether anyone has been charged over the accident in Taylor’s Halt.

With regard to the Cramond accident, Zwane said the directorate of public prosecutions will decide whether to lay charges.

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