Horror taxi accident: Anguish as families identify their loved ones

2015-08-18 16:34
Family members waiting to identify their loved ones at KwaDukuza Saps mortuary. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Family members waiting to identify their loved ones at KwaDukuza Saps mortuary. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban - When Linda Warren received a call from the husband of one of her employees informing her his wife had yet to arrive home on Monday afternoon, she felt sick to her stomach.

She feared Zakhona Dube, 26, may have been one of the 16 people confirmed dead in a horrific accident on the North Coast N2 highway.

The taxi, reportedly carrying 20 people, plunged off a bridge and landed on a railway track before being hit by a train. Initial reports placed the number of deaths at 15, but IPSS medical rescue’s Paul Herbst confirmed on Tuesday that a man, who had been in a critical condition, had died.

Warren, 53, who owns a Zimbali guest house, said Dube and her sister Lethiwe, 29, left work at around 16:45 to catch a taxi home as they did every afternoon.

“I just felt sick in my stomach when he called, because I had just spoken to them earlier. They both work for me at the guest house.”

Warren said around 18:00, she met with the two women's husbands and they went searching for the sisters at the nearest hospitals.

“We went to Tongaat and Stanger, because we were hoping to find them among the survivors, but we didn’t find them. We were told to look for them at the KwaDukuza SAPS mortuary.”

'I cried like a child when I saw him'

On Tuesday, Warren took her employees' mother, Thembelihle Dube, 50, to the mortuary where their worst fears were confirmed. Warren could tell by the woman’s loud sobs as she walked out of the mortuary the women had been positively identified.

Warren watched an inconsolable Dube fall to her knees shouting: “Why? Why? Why?”

Zakhona’s frustrated husband, who did not want to be identified, told News24 the taxi had been coming from Zimbali. “They were five minutes away from home. That is where they jump off every afternoon. They were nearly home,” he said.

Sthembiso Mpontshana, 24, from Thethe township, said he was on his way home when he received a call from his father asking him about his mother Nelisiwe Ngcobo, 43.

“We tried calling her cellphone and couldn’t reach her. We called again later and the phone was answered by a policeman who asked us to come to the police station. He did not know she was dead,” said Ngcobo. The family found Ngcobo at the mortuary on Tuesday.

Waiting to be addressed outside the KwaDukuza town hall was Ronald Mbonambi, 65, from Groutville.

Mbonambi said his son Thamsanqa, 24, a chef at the Fairmont Hotel, was among those who perished.

“My neighbour called me and asked if I had heard there had been a big accident. When I got home, my son was not there, so we went to the Umhlali police station and were told to go to the scene,” said Mbonambi.

When he arrived at the scene, Mbonambi was sent to the KwaDukuza mortuary where he found his son.

“It’s painful to see your child in that state. I cried like a child when I saw him. How can I raise a child to become a man then he leaves me just like that?” he said.

The families were expected to be addressed by KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC Willies Mchunu on Tuesday afternoon.

Read more on:    durban  |  accidents

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