‘We thought the train would roll and we would all die’

2013-02-01 00:00

PRETORIA — “Thank you, God, that we’re alive,” was the prayer of a group of schoolchildren whose train was involved in an accident yesterday morning.

More than 100 people were injured, two critically and 19 seriously, when one train rear-ended another between the Cor Delfos and Kalafong stations yesterday morning.

“That’s why it is important to pray every morning before you go to school,” said Charmaine Sengwayo (17) of Bokgoni Technical Secondary School.

She walked out without a scratch.

Charmaine is among hundreds of pupils who catch trains to go to school daily.

Albert Nkanka (18), of Hofmeyr High School, who was sitting near the back of the train, said: “Suddenly there was a loud noise, all the lights went off and the train was skew.

“We thought the train would roll and we would all die,” he said. All he could think was, “I have to get out!”

The train he was on hit the back of a stationary train.

Most of the passengers were able to walk. Fellow passengers helped injured people off the train.

The driver of the train in the rear was critically hurt and emergency workers struggled for hours to free him.

Mosenngwa Mofi, CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA blamed the accident on cable theft, saying thieves had stolen 25 metres of cable earlier in the morning.

This meant that signalling was being done manually. “Further investigations will reveal why the one train was stationary on the track,” he said.

Transport Minister Ben Martins, who visited the scene, said people who stole cables, causing accidents, should be charged with attempted murder.

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