Horror crash: 26 dead, driver faces murder charge

2012-07-13 22:33

Johannesburg - The death toll following a collision between a train and truck in Mpumalanga on Friday had reached 26 by late afternoon, the department of public enterprise said.

"The minister is deeply saddened by what transpired at 07:00 this morning," said Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba's spokesperson, Mayihlone Tshwete.

Gigaba sent his condolences to the families of those killed.

Netcare 911 spokesperson Jeffrey Wicks said the truck was carrying farm workers on the N4 when it collided with the train at a level crossing between Malelane and Hectorspruit.

Tshwete said Gigaba believed the incident illustrated the dangers of irresponsible driving, which allegedly caused the crash.

Train driver not negligent

Gigaba and Transnet officials had visited the scene and were satisfied that all level crossing safety measures were in place at the time of the crash.

Clear signals were in place, and the train driver "even hooted to let the [truck] driver know that he was approaching".

There was no indication of negligence on the part of the train driver, Tshwete said. "Officials and those who saw [the] accident are deeply affected by what happened." Gigaba urged law enforcement agencies to address the root cause of the crash, Tshwete said.

He said the farmer should be questioned if he were responsible for transporting the workers, as it appeared that "a number of laws were broken in this regard".

The farmer and the truck driver should share responsibility for the tragedy.

Murder charges

Colonel Leonard Hlathi said the truck driver had been detained and would face murder charges in the Tonga Magistrate's Court on Monday.

Transport Minister Ben Martins extended his condolences to the friends and family of those who were killed and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

"We are deeply saddened by this terrible occurrence that has claimed so many lives," he said.

The department was gravely concerned about fatal crashes at rail crossings, which was why some crossings were now being monitored via closed circuit television cameras.

The Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) were assisting investigations into the cause of the crash.

Poor labour practices

The RAF would also help the bereaved families and the injured with injury claim and funeral arrangement assessments.

Authorities would investigate all of the possible causes of the crash.

"We urge motorists, pedestrians and train drivers alike to exercise extreme caution at all times at these crossings," said Martins.

Congress of SA Trade Unions spokesperson Patrick Craven said the accident was an example of poor labour practices.

"This terrible tragedy exposes once again the scandal of workers being transported in open trucks.

"In a country where drivers and passengers of cars are legally obliged to wear seatbelts, how can we tolerate workers being transported with absolutely no protection in the event of an accident?" he asked.

He called for a full inquiry into the cause of the accident.

Transnet tweeted that the truck had been carrying 44 passengers.

"We would like to extend our sincere sympathies and condolences to the families of those whose lives were lost and a speedy recovery to the injured," it said.

Dragged 22m

Provincial community safety department spokeserson Joseph Mabuza said the train dragged the truck for about 200m, leaving bodies with limbs missing scattered on the ground.

"No injuries to the train crew or damage to the train or [railway] infrastructure were registered," he said.

The RSR said the train was carrying coal from Witbank to Maputo.

Safety inspectors were at the scene.

Condolences poured in for the families of the crash victims.

Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi expressed sadness at the accident.

"One death is one too many. Our prayers and thoughts are with the families of the farm workers."

The Democratic Alliance wished the injured a speedy recovery. Spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said efforts should be redoubled to increase safety at level crossings.

"My colleague in Mpumalanga, DA provincial leader Anthony Benadie, will be taking this matter up in the provincial legislature. Incidents like these should not be happening in South Africa," he said.

  • tobydt - 2012-07-13 23:53

    Condolences... But the farmer should share responsibility? Was he the one trying to drive over the tracks with an approaching train? If that is the case, then I am responsible for corruption in govermment. Because I pay taxes.

      Warren - 2012-07-14 01:20

      I'd welcome such shared responsibility if every time taxi drivers are responsible for deaths, the taxi boss\owner is also held accountable.

      chris.summers.3954 - 2012-07-14 03:10

      @Gollum. In a magical fairyland, where the taxi boss is white, that might even be a possibility!

      mphozana.manfred - 2012-07-14 07:22

      Stop being childish, why do you always have to be so protective based on color? You realy dont belong in sa, your actions says so, not me.

      tina.roberts.79230 - 2012-07-14 10:28

      The farmer isn't responsible - most farmers source labour from an independent company !!! - dont always assume that the white farmers are at fault!

      stefaans.blaauw - 2012-07-14 17:48

      If the farmer was driving the truck.... then he should be held responsable, BUT how can any one keep him responsable if he was NOT the driver. Stupid argument....... blame it on apartheid again ???

      gail.hayesbean - 2012-07-14 19:09

      If the truck belonged to the farmer and he knew that the driver was not licensed then under law he must accept joint responsibility. In yesterday's report however I understood that the farmer used a subcontractor to get his workers to different parts of the farm. If that is the case then the liability must be carried/shared by the subcontractor who employed the driver. I know that in the old days and probably even today farmers allow their workers and children to drive around on farm roads long before they are licensed as obtaining a licence is such a huge expense and a money making racket sometimes. The farmer's train the worker or their sons/daughters to drive - my Dad tried to teach me on a tractor and was so impatient and concerned about the tractor that I declined to get a licence until I was 29 and had two children. If the truck belonged to someone else who employed the driver then it was the subcontractor's responsibility to ensure that the driver was properly licensed to drive a large truck and the farmer is not even jointly responsible. This brings us back to the Licensing department where I know of people failing as many as 8 times because each time they failed they had topay another R450.00 to take the test again. Then there are also the incredibly crooked peope who will knowingly issue a licence to someone who has not taken a licence because they pay them under the table. This relates to the taxi deaths as well. How many taxi deaths are not due to the same thing?

  • gavin.taylor.79 - 2012-07-13 23:59

    Well....the colonialist oppressors brought the trains and the vehicles to Africa, so let's blame them....

      mphozana.manfred - 2012-07-14 07:17

      Dont be stupid, if u want to blame the colonialist, call them the oppressors if u like, do it yourself, m nt blaming them, but the farmer should be investigated if he provided, suitable transportation.

      brendon.nel.7 - 2012-07-14 07:44

      Ha ha ha yes blame them ja. Investigate the farmer for what? Being hit with by a coal train weighing thousands of tons is gonna squish you no matter what transport they where using.

      patsy.smith.125 - 2012-07-14 10:40

      Didn't they also bring the wheel? Or am I mistaken?

  • Johan Vermaak - 2012-07-14 00:24

    This is sad. Condolences to the families. I do feel, if the government wants the farmer to be held responsible, then the MEC (who's driver hit the matriculant) should also be held responsible for that accident. Same circumstances

  • Dave - 2012-07-14 01:34

    Just another example of lawlesness in a country where most people just do as they want whenever they want....and yet Traffic officers and the work they do are just frowned upon and seen as a money making scheme.....

      patsy.smith.125 - 2012-07-14 10:41

      Especially by the worst offenders - the taxi drivers/owners

  • trixie.munroe.5 - 2012-07-14 01:54

    2 level crossings at pyramid in pretoria have no booms

  • siliziwem - 2012-07-14 02:57

    is this friday the 13th a reality...because i passed by 4 fatal accidents today alone! This is a scary horror!

      mollie.kruger - 2012-07-14 06:45

      Nothing happened to me yesterday, so it is a myth...

  • Billy - 2012-07-14 02:59

    yea then the farmer would be held responsible for all actions his workers take. that would mean he would have to do all the leading tasks and supervise all operations, to cover himself. how can you run a farm like that? this is silly, the driver was given the responsibility by his employer. the employee failed his duty, big time.

      gungets.tuft - 2012-07-14 06:22

      @Billy Not really. I see the "statement" about sharing responsibility is NOT in quotes, so I wonder if this is not News24 taking some literary license again. What Gicaba said is that the farmer should be questioned, and obviously that is completely correct. Section 16.1 of the OHS Act states that the onus is on the "senior manager" to ensure that appropriate safety training must be conducted and the trainee has to pass tests, and sign off that he has had the training, before being allowed to operate equipment or carry out certain tasks. This responsibility devolves to the CEO of an organisation unless the chain of WRITTEN AND SIGNED OFF delegation can be provided. Should the farmer be questioned (in the letter of the law) - absolutely. If he has not provided the required training and had that training signed off, he is legally responsible. That's the law.

      gungets.tuft - 2012-07-14 06:38

      Sorry - Section 16.2.

      gungets.tuft - 2012-07-14 10:51

      @Oneway - it's the law, that is all I am saying. It is possible to judge the law if you like, but if they investigate the owner that is part of the process. If you get electrocuted at work due to company negligence the same rule applies. You would want that - what makes this different. People died, you cannot gloss over that.

      Billy - 2012-07-14 14:50

      so if im mentally unstable all of a sudden and i decide to kill everyone on the buss im driving them on, its my bosses fault?

      lindokuhle.malindela - 2012-07-14 15:10

      gungets, thankyou for that. you are a man who speaks based on facts and not arrogance. wellsaid:-)

  • zimisele.mnomiya - 2012-07-14 03:13

    That driver deserve 2 b killed with a speeding train, 2 b handcuffed nd forcible placed on a guautrain railway nd b knocked nd minced by it 2 death #mnxn#

      gail.hayesbean - 2012-07-14 19:54

      26 people have already lost their lives because of an unlicensed driver sub-cantracted by the farmer to convey workers on his farm across which runs a major railway line with presumably regular traffic on it.Who knows who the subcontracor was who employed and provided the truck? Did he bother to check whther the driver of his truck was unlicensed? People obtain licences illegally by bribery and forgery because of illiteracy due to unemployment.This goes to Minister of Transport and the Licencing debacle where people have to pay and pay and pay to obtain licences. Not only that but they also once licensed have to renew those licences every few years - more money which goes to SARS and the MP's who are chauffeur driven and escorted by people who are absolved of murder if they take out other drivers on the road who don't move over for them. I've just heard fro JZ on TV that the truck had a closed container on the back of it. This is wrong on so many levels! Maybe the driver was unlicensed because he couldn't afford to renew his license. An eye for an eye only makes everybody blind. It is a real tragedy and he will pay for it but the owner of a truck with a container on the back should pay with him. In a way I would also ask whether the farmer forwhom these workers were destined was aware of the manner in which they were being transported and had raised it with the subcontractor? This come backs to Minister of Transport and Licences. Loss of life in the namme of BBEEE.

  • thabob.zumagabe - 2012-07-14 04:48

    Where the hell did Manyi the Clown pop up from ? Thought we were rid of him as with Mal Enema ! Also, not ideal to convey workers in a truck, but the alternative is to ask them to make their own transport arrangements as does every other employee must do. Patrick, you want equal, decent treatment for all workers, so start thinking of a transport solution for farm workers, and while uou busy with it - a full investigation of minibus taxi transport practices. Especially the requirement to wear safety belts, plus adherence to traffic laws !!! Whats good for the goose, is good for the gander my china !!

      Nqobile Khakhatha - 2012-07-14 06:59

      Richard lets not get to race card. I'm in construction an its an expensive excercise to get covered transport, but we do. however, in this type of accident more people would have died in a bus with seatbelts etc. They would have all been prisoners to the calamity. 20 survived probably by being thrown out of the open truck, we wish them a speedy recovery and our condolences to the families of the deceased. Truck driver has a lot to answer for.

      Billy - 2012-07-14 14:51

      good points gentlemen

      gail.hayesbean - 2012-07-14 20:12

      I note that Toyota are being grilled on Special Assignment this coming week about the panel vans which were converted to Minibus Taxis. Who issued a RWC to this open truck with a container on the back which was carrying these passengers and at whose request was it done and paid for. The driver of the vehicle was paid a salary to do a job by a subcontractor who must have known that the truck was actually legally breaking the law. He probably bought a flatbed truck and then had the container (no windows) welded to it so that he could fit more people onto it for economy purposes. In my mind that makes him liable as well as whoever did the modifications for him. Both of them were maximising profit at minimum cost to themself and at the expense of human lives. It is right that the people who do these illegal conversions be held to account as well. The driver was merely obeying orders and incompetent and unaware that the truck should not have been allowed to carry human cargo because it was structurally compromised from an engineering point of view.

  • richard.lemmer1 - 2012-07-14 04:57

    They will play a race card again and blame en farmer . Would these people bee any better off in a closed vehicle with seat belts ? Hat is a ridiculous argument ! The driver can be the only one responsible ! It does not matter if he is white , black , green or purple !

  • annie.kalahari - 2012-07-14 05:14

    What a good idea! Perhaps the authorities would also force taxi-owners to stop overloading their taxis and by forcing them to install seat-belts in their taxis too.

  • peter.mokoena.31 - 2012-07-14 05:33

    Only in Mpumalanga these could happen, probably the driver could have bought a licence, who in his right mind can ignore a level crossing with a hooting train? It just shows the tentacles of corruption, but nothing will replace the lost onesa,the pains of these families. I share ur sadness and feel ur pains. Condolenses and hope justice will prevail.

  • Stefanus - 2012-07-14 05:42

    Patrick Crybaby you should be fined for the comments you make.

  • Hermann - 2012-07-14 05:43

    Craven should go back to school and learn to think.

  • ngwako.macheru - 2012-07-14 06:04

    My deepest sympathy to those who hav lost their loved ones whereby many of them were breadwinners in their families and wishing the injured people a speedy recovery. The driver and the farmer must face the law. The driver must get a life sentence for each person killed and 20 years for each person injured.

  • Matthew.and.Denise - 2012-07-14 07:01

    How can it be the farmers fault!? So if they were being transported in a luxury bus and got hit by the train they would be ok?

      freddy.vanwijk - 2012-07-14 07:11

      Good question. The only thing police can do is ask questions. The driver of the truck simply failed to give way to that train and broke the law in the process. The farmer is not responsible for this accident.

  • andrew.molyneaux - 2012-07-14 07:02

    This is a tragic event without doubt - Not only for the victims but their families who depended on their income for survival. My condolences to all. But turning to all this bullcrap about who is responsible - driver, farmer, train driver, road construction company, railway signal provider - should I go on - No! The accident is the result of choices made by the driver of the truck - period. He had the choice of stopping or proceeding - He hjad the choice to drive that day or not - The accident is the result of choices made by the person in control of the vehicle - period. To suggest that the owner of the truck is responsible for the actions of the driver at that instant, is akin to holding a mother responsible for the actions of a child molester against her child - complete bullcrap. In closing I recall an incident in Cape Town in the recent past where a taxi driver also attempted to race a train crossing and was responsible for the deaths of a number of school children - He faced the law as a result of his actions and was found accountable - Right so!! But was the owner of the Taxi subjected to the process that the honorable politicians now feel the farmer should face - Double standards chaps - In fact not even double standards it is plain out and out racism period. Wake up politicians and the like - you are killing the gravy producer - the train will run dry soon enough !!!

      mphozana.manfred - 2012-07-14 07:09

      I agree with u 101%, the farmer, black or white, need only to be investigated if he provided suitable tranportation for his/her employees, period.

      gail.hayesbean - 2012-07-14 20:40

      The farmer subcontracted the transport to a 3rd party who employed the driver who made the bad decision. The vehicle was structurally altered (according to JZ on tonight's news) and should never have been allowed to carry human cargo. One should have a PDP licence. The driver made a choice to drive a truck supplied by the 3rd party who knew that the truck could be structurally unsound as a result of the container. The subcontracor is also liable with that driver almost more so because he allowed the unlicensed driver to drive a compromised vehicle that he had compromised. He broke two laws here and this was NOT the farmer's responsibility. He was unaware of both factors pertaining to the transport which would be carrying labourers to his farm. Having survived a car accident with a broken neck in a roadworthy vehicle on a National road when we hit cattle at night (my husband was killed) the liability in law rests with the owner of the vehicle regardless of who was driving it. If the truck belonged to the farmer and the driver was part of the workforce he subcontracted then the farmer is the second party and liable for the truck being illegal but the person who supplied the driver holds the major responsivility because he did not check the driver's licence was valid. The driver is the 1st party because he knew he wasn't sufficiently qualified to drive people. Had his licence lapsed due to financial restraints making him unlicensed? Dept of Transport - simplify the process.

  • michael.kleber.376 - 2012-07-14 07:34

    If the driver had no license and the farmer employed him knowing this then yes he too is responsible , if driver had license and broke the rules of the road it is only himself to blame , but this is very tragic and i see it everyday taxi fully laden overtaking on solid white lines , turning right from the go straight lane , driving in the emergency lane , people need to become more responsible drivers as peoples lives are in your hands , look at this truck driver one bad decision and he has killed 26 people and maimed countless others

  • mahlomola.mabala - 2012-07-14 07:45

    My condolances to the affected families. It is so said:-( Whats also sad is that, 26 PEOPLE die; and all we have is another racially motivated agurment on our posts!

  • lulama.mbelwa - 2012-07-14 07:48

    This is a tragic to the whole nation, may their souls rest in peace. And may the law takes its course

  • piet.maritz.188 - 2012-07-14 08:10

    ANONIEM VAN kOMATIPOORT: Dit maak geen verskil op water manier hierdie persone vervoer was nie,die oorsaak le by bestuurders van voertye wat nie behoorlike orde aan die dag le nie. Enige regdenkine mens sal waneer hy n stop straat of gevaarlike spoor oorgang nader dood seker maak dat alles in orde en veilig is voor dat hy dit kruis.My voorstel is dat drywers wat mense vervoer baie strenger gekeur word.Self met my opserwasie op ander pad gebriukers sien mens gevalle waar swaar voertuie te hoe snelhede ry en selfs op blinde hoogtes by mekaar verby probeer ry, dit is ook n vorm van swak bestuurs oplyding, dit stel mede pad verbruikers in gevaar. Dis ook die geval by busse en texsies,en moet ook nie die Mozambiekers vergeet nie. My voorstel as oplossing vir die wan gedrag op die paaie in ons streek sal wees dat verkeers personeel wat sit in groepe van tot ses voerduie by mekaar en KFC eet,op die paaie rond beweeg en deur opserwasie die skuldiges aftrek en met hoe boetes beboet,al sou dit beteken die voertuig word belet om verder tery.Van die pad owerheid se kant behoort daar zero tolerins borde orals op tekom.

      gail.hayesbean - 2012-07-14 21:13

      Ongelukkig is daar nie genoeg voertuie om die verkeers beamptes een een te laar sit en dit is ook nodig dat daar ten minste twee van hulle moet saam wees in die geval van 'n oortreding anders is dit hom vs. die oortreder's se woord. Geld?

  • Jake - 2012-07-14 08:15

    Of course the truck driver is guilty.he MURDERED all these people. Negligent,reckless, and totally disregarded danger......surely the train did not just fall near the truck........I'd love to know where and under what circumstances he got his licence.....probably bought from a dodgy driving licence examiner......for pics and vids and driver educational content see updated website wwwwfatalmovesdotcom

  • sasekile - 2012-07-14 08:32

    May their souls rest in peace and condolences to the families left behind

  • Anakin - 2012-07-14 09:02

    "The Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) were assisting investigations into the cause of the crash"'s time that the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) and Transnet start to DO SOMETHING about these incidents, besides putting up CCTV at rail crossings (it won't prevent another accident, it will just record yet another incident). So WHEN can we see those BRIDGES for motor vehicles OVER ALL railway crossings? What about the MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT? What are they going to ACTUALLY DO this (instead of just investigating and being obscure). Yes, at the start it will costly, but if we can build big soccer stadiums (elephants) with tonnes of concrete, why not proper bridges over these dangerous crossings. Forget about the booms and flashing lights and horns, it simply doesn't work. At railway crossings where it can't be done access must be permanently blocked for motor vehicles and diverted to a safe BRIDGE crossing. Why is this so difficult to do??

      mohapeloa.mohapeloa - 2012-07-14 11:02

      "...officials had visited the scene and were satisfied that all level crossing safety measures were in place at the time of the crash." I disagree totally with this statement. I've been saying this from yesterday: Install "intelligent" booms that detect oncoming trains and therefore won't open until all is clear. How difficult is this? Please !!!! @Anakin, I agree 100% with you, Installing CCTV at rail xsings will just give officials a recording of yet another accident so that they can drink coffee and play it back and hold intelligent conversations at their leisure. Why not prevent the next accident from happening in the 1st place ? Please !!!!!!!!!! May the souls RIP and condolences to the families.

      gail.hayesbean - 2012-07-14 21:15

      Best comment yet!

  • Steven Trollip - 2012-07-14 09:43

    Condolenses to all the fam.Driver of the truck is a murderer.

  • comurray - 2012-07-14 09:49

    Just when is an existing law going to be enforced where it is illegal to carry passengers on the backs of trucks asnd bakkies. Minimum fines of R 5000.00 should be imposed on first offenders on drivers caught carrying passengers on these vehicles.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-07-15 09:58

      A lot of people will then not be able to get to work. This is the real world, travelling in an open vehicle is not as terrible as you make out anyway. A closed bus probably would have had more casualties in this accident anyway, the survivors were thrown off the open truck.

  • Karen - 2012-07-14 12:42

    All very very sad and my condolences to the families. However, why is there a level crossing on a national road in the first place???? The road should have a bridge over every railway line or vice versa.

  • thapelo.mashao.3 - 2012-07-14 13:17

    This bustard must rot in jail,nd de farmer must also be charged,u can't put people like pumkins why not a bus in the first place to transport this fellow victims.U mr driver u don't stand a chance u've inflicted more pains to de families of the deceased.

      balan.morgen - 2012-07-14 16:43

      @thapelo.mashao, you are a BIG IDIOT so firstly look up in the dictionary for the meaning of an accident. what if the trucks brakes failed and that spare of the moment, Booster packed up lacking ABS EBD etc.

      balan.morgen - 2012-07-14 16:48

      @thapelo.mashao.3 most of you darky ous are thick skulled with less brain power, you guy's are really stuck in the stone age.

      mao.mofomme - 2012-07-14 23:23

      @Balan F#%k off u racist prick!

  • Ruan - 2012-07-14 18:49

    .....but did the driver acquired his Pee Dee Pee....?>?

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-07-15 09:54

      PDP is simple to get, have an eye test, fill in a few forms, pay a few bob - it does not make the driver any better. Been there, done that.

  • Jake - 2012-07-14 18:59

    Driver is a murderer......his negligence and recklessness has destroyed not just these lives but families of all these people......let's join hands with wwwfatalmovesdotcom and restore sanity to our rioads

  • maxikixa.herbza - 2012-07-15 11:27

    My condolences to all de families who lost their loved ones . . n speedy recovery to those who r injured . . the truck driver must be hold accountable for the all the mess that he caused n as for train driver i wish he can get a good counseling so that he can be able to forget wat he saw

  • sibusiso.u.msimango - 2012-07-15 17:44

    to all those who lost theri lives my thee soul rest in peace only God know why this happen, we are very sory about this, please God help us to figth this domonic that is killing us

  • luckyzaboy.mhlongo - 2012-07-16 15:38

    This is very sad to everyone, may their soul rest in peace. This will be a lesson to all the drivers. I'm working @ the level crossing most of the time, most of the drivers they undermines the speed of a train and they do not stop @ the level crossings.

  • pages:
  • 1