Couples burnt in horror crash

2009-08-17 09:46
Johannesburg - Two elderly couples burnt to death in their 4x4 in a gruesome accident outside Nelspruit at the weekend, when they presumably tried to turn off the road to stop at a farm stall to buy papayas.

Pastor Dawie Viljoen, 80, his wife, Marie, 76, and their friends Stoffel, 76, and Elize Venter, 70, died when their Toyota Prado was hit by a heavy truck.

The vehicles caught fire and both couples burnt to death. The driver of the truck sustained light injuries and was able to climb out of the cabin before the fire started.

The two couples had been on the N4 highway on their way to Marloth Park, near Komatipoort, for the weekend. About 30km outside Nelspruit, near the Matsulu off-ramp, Venter presumably turned off the road at a farm stall.

Dragged for 30m

Boet van Rensburg, a close friend of the Venters, had been speaking to Elize on her cellphone just minutes before the accident happened.

"I was the one who told them to stop at the farm stall to buy papayas."

A truck carrying a load of chrome was driving in the same direction. It hit the Prado and dragged it along for over 30m.

The two vehicles hit a police vehicle, which overturned, and the two policemen inside were slightly injured.

The truck then hit a Toyota Quantum. The two people in the Quantum were also only slightly injured.

All the vehicles caught fire and three were completely destroyed.

Emergency services staff at the scene said the four elderly people probably died on impact.

Careful driver

Pastor Dawie Viljoen was involved with the AGS Church and had lived in Carolina all his life.

He retired from the ministry a few years ago, and since then had regularly given sermons at the AGS Church in Belfast. Stoffel was a well-known cattle farmer, who lived and worked on his family farm, Goedehoop.

Farmer and neighbour Ernst van den Berg said Venter was a careful driver and never drove too fast.

Van den Berg, who also knew Viljoen well, said the pastor would have given the following message to those who mourned him and his wife: "Don't let earthly circumstances overwhelm your spiritual thoughts."

No funeral arrangements have been made yet.

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