Horror crash: Drivers to be charged

2011-11-15 22:32

Cape Town - Serious charges are expected to be brought against two drivers in an accident that claimed 20 lives in the Western Cape on Tuesday morning.

"We expect that very serious charges - murder or culpable homicide - will be brought against the two surviving drivers," Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said.

The accident happened on the N1 between Leeu-Gamka and Prince Albert Road at about 02:00. Two taxis heading in the direction of Cape Town crashed into the side of a truck.

Western Cape police spokesperson Malcolm Pojie said the minibus overturned when it was rammed from behind by another minibus.

"It appeared all the people who died were occupants of the minibus taxis."

All of them, 12 women, six men, a boy and a girl, were declared dead at the scene. The driver of the truck and the driver of the second taxi survived the crash.

Carlisle said the accident happened in a 80km/h zone. The driver of the first taxi to crash into the truck had not been identified, but was assumed to have been among the dead.

"Provincial health services have confirmed that there were 20 dead, 17 injured and seven unharmed," Carlisle said.

The injured were being treated at hospitals in Beaufort West, George and Tygerburg.

Carlisle said post mortems would be carried out in Oudtshoorn from Wednesday.

No mercy to rule breakers

He planned to introduce average-speed-over-distance cameras over the Laingsburg to Prince Albert section of the N1 "as quickly as we can".

"We will intensify our focus on the causes and prevention of major accidents. I am particularly concerned about fully loaded taxis travelling, often with packed trailers, at 100km/h."

Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele sent his condolences to the families and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

He said officials of the Road Accident Fund were providing assistance to the families.

An independent team of reconstruction specialists were sent to assist in the investigation, Ndebele's spokesperson Logan Maistry said in a statement.

"We are repeating our calls for all public transport operators to ensure that no long-distance trip is undertaken without a relief driver, particularly as we head towards the December holidays."

He said no mercy would be shown to those who disregard road rules.

  • Skinfaxi - 2011-11-16 00:29

    One would have thought that an unsafe following distance would have been more to blame for a rear end collision….. oh but hang on wait the authorities can make more money out of speed cameras… silly me. Logic dictates that the most policed form of traffic violations should be the ones responsible for causing the most accidents. However we find that the most easily policed violations and therefore most profitable are the ones that have the attention of the authorities. Imagine how many lives could be saved it if the traffic department was there to make the roads safer instead of making money.

  • Van - 2011-11-16 00:35

    And the dickhead that skipped the traffic light and caused brain damage to the boy in Krugersdorp?

      Burtfred - 2011-11-16 01:10

      @Van. Nothing will happen to the "Dickhead" or his tosser of a boss that was in the blue-light bomb at the time. The incident happened in Gauteng, not in the Western Cape.

  • Adriaan - 2011-11-16 03:36

    Speed cameras alone won't help.There are numerous other problems like the follow distance.

      Sean - 2011-11-16 11:18

      I feel that speed does not only contribute to killings on the road, I feel that reckless driving contributes more to this - example "Blue light brigades" and people who are "late for the flights, or meetings"! These people don't just speed, but drive extremely recklessly to the airport or in nd around town! Road markings also just regarded as artworks and serve absolutely no purpose...!?

  • Sean - 2011-11-16 04:13

    1 life or 20 lives lost due to reckless driving of taxis involved in accidents make no difference, these lives cannot be brought back. Just think how the families must feel when they breceive news that a loved one has lost his/life has been lost due to yet another reckless driver of a taxi! I feel that tax divers feel that they have carte-blanch over the other law abiding citizens!! I don't understand why taxi drivers are warned that they are road users like any other drivers that are transporting innocent passengers often with innocent children whose lives were brought to an instant halt! Taxindrivers drive extremely wrecklessly and never abide to any speed limits, red traffic lights mean absolutely nothing to them! Taxi drivers shoud have the book thrown at them. You will also find that these vehicles are seldm road-worthy and often over-loaded- why are they getting away with this, is bribery involved or are the traffic cops just being threatened with their lives or do they feel like they are victimised? Taxi drivers need to realise that it is due their own regular transgressions that they could be pulled over that any other mostly law-abiding road users. Statistics in the recent news is testament to this. My condolences to all pssengers who lost their lives and their families affected in this recent unacceptable incident! Imagine being the one breaking the news to the families left behind. I am sure that many of these passengers were bread-winners, what now?

  • roger.v.powell - 2011-11-16 04:43

    Stricter rules? How about making being in possession of a motor vehicle without a licence punishable by a fifteen year maximum sentence. Nobody will argue that a motor vehicle in the hands of the incompetent driver is worse than a gun in the hands of an incompetent gun owner. Cars do kill more people than guns world wide, wars not included. I live in Durban and I see many taxis running red robots in the area of the Workshop. Why are there no cameras in this area? Sorry. Dumb question.

  • Silvana - 2011-11-16 04:57

    This is tragic but from what I understand this was caused by the truck having stalled across the road while turning to go and refuel. At the best of times trucks are poorly visible with their tiny rear lights which are usually made worse by grime sticking to them. I think luminous chevrons right around the trucks would go a long way in making them visible. It might have prevented this accident even though the taxis might have been speeding.

      Paul - 2011-11-16 05:29

      Correct Silvana the accident was caused by the truck which had run out of fuel while trying to turn off the N1. News24 still do not conveniently have the full details of the accident. The truck is owned by a multi national logistics corporate and in terms of the Consumer Protection Act if the driver of the truck is found to be negligent, the company liable for damages.

      Brian - 2011-11-16 06:31

      All vehicles over a certain length are required by law to have reflective yellow tape placed along the length of the truck/trailer. These strips are highly visible at night, even when dirty. No vehicle of this category is permitted on the road without these strips. SABS homologation rules provide that they must be fitted before a vehicle leaves the factory, or be licensed. The strips are checked at every road-worthiness check. Given that the truck WOULD have been clearly visible, I would suggest that the taxi drivers were travelling too fast, travelling too close to one another and that the drivers were over-tired.

      Paul - 2011-11-16 06:43

      I agree with you Brian and the truck did have reflective tape on it and by law the driver should have put out 'reflective triangles' as well. I am not disputing the fact that the taxis were not speeding but to hit 35 tons of dead weight at even 80km/h is fatal. They were obviously travelling in convoy as well.

      Arthur - 2011-11-16 09:31

      By far the most sensible and informative posts. I too taught that truck isn’t so innocent in this. One can argue that it was reckless driving but I think that this may be a case miscommunication which led to an error in judgment on the part of the first taxi. There are unwritten rules when it comes to long distance driving. The truck may have indicated with the intention to turn and the first taxi thought that he signalled that it’s safe to overtake. The second taxi may have thought the same and pressed to also pass. When the first taxi collided the second one probably had no time to respond. I also must admit that on occasion I too press, convoy style, to overtake a truck. This accident will definitely make me think twice especially in 80km zone with hidden exits.

      Sean - 2011-11-16 11:09

      Good comment on the tail lights that are small and all ways covered in grime - i lost two colleagues when their vehicle drove right under a statiinary truck in the highway - not even chevrons were placed out. The other point about the chevron stickers - are truckers not also obliged to place these chevron stickers ll around their horse and trailer? If so do the traffic authorities checking up on this?

  • christo.cilliers - 2011-11-16 06:10

    what a joke of a lawless society we have become... They might be charged? Stop bickering and take action. People DIED! Families are affected. NOTHING will come of this. Taxis will always be on the road. They have NO RESPECT for human life and they don't care. Neither does the government... Pray lewd...

      Dorothea - 2011-11-16 07:25

      you criticise people for bickering, but all you suggest is that people take action'? goodness, this is such a constructive thing to say. how precisely must we take action, christo? you need to stop preaching and put your money where you mouth is, instead of sitting back in your armchair thinking you are above everyone else.

  • Tony - 2011-11-16 06:14

    How many people were involved in this accident?

  • Dawid - 2011-11-16 06:32

    "20 dead, 17 injured and seven unharmed- 44 passengers- Two Taxis???

      Jeffrey - 2011-11-16 07:06

      Plus the drivers and the obligatory drivers' mates (the guys who hang out the passenger side whistling and shouting for fares). Total of 48 people. And one of the taxis had a trailer, presumably for luggage. Add the weight of luggage, roof-racks, and so forth, and these two taxis were seriously overloaded.

  • Wendy - 2011-11-16 07:00

    What were 44 people doing in 2 taxis licensed to carry 16 passengers & driver each? It does not really matter what speed you are doing when you are that overloaded, there is no hope of controlling the vehicle in any situation.

      Arthur - 2011-11-16 10:01

      You do get 18 seater taxis, excluding the driver. Plus there were infants, such as the 20month old who died, who probably set on the parents laps.

      Thabiso - 2011-11-17 13:44

      Taxis in the western cape overload and the authorities do nothing about it. I onced passed a traffic officer checking the taxi driver's licence and commented that the taxi is overloaded, he looked at me like I was crazy. Such is the reality in cape town. A normal 15 sitter Siyaya carries up to 20 people as if its normal. The authorities needs to account also for niglecting their duties.

  • nokuthandwa - 2011-11-16 08:00

    I was on that road on Friday night driving from Cape Town to Queenstown, the taxis that travel that route are ruthless on the road. At one stage, one quantum taxi was overtaking a truck and another taxi was overtaking the taxi overtaking the truck. Both taxis ended up on the on coming traffic lane and a car coming had to literally swerve onto the grass next to the road. Again, truck drivers are also not innocent, they drive like maniacs on that road. Something really needs to be done. When we got to a petrol station, one driver was talking about how the other must have at least been doing 180 to be able to overtake him.

  • Deon - 2011-11-16 08:19

    We need to rethink roads and automobiles. "Scalextric" or magnetic linked cars to roads could save many thousands of deaths in the future. It could produce a few more "Apples and Gates"

  • pat.pugheparry - 2011-11-16 09:11

    44 people in 2 taxis and a truck? I thought taxis. How many people are legally allowed per taxi?

  • Cina - 2011-11-16 09:26

    I think Government should fix up the rail roads as in the olden days. It is much saver and I'm sure it would be cheaper as well. Might be a little longer in transport but at least you will be save. Stupid taxis how many lives has been lost this year alone in taxi accidents, and nothing gets done to the owner of the taxi or even the driver if he survive the accident.

  • binarycape - 2011-11-16 10:10

    That is a total of 44 people in the two vehicles. Were these the bigger, newer taxis? All taxi's should not be allowed to go over 80km/h AND should have a second driver if doing long distance and that should be the law. And all taxi drivers should be retested each year to keep their special licence - those that have them that is!

  • Gail - 2011-11-16 10:23

    Acknowledged - taxi's are the biggest killers on the road however there are other questions which need to be asked here. Firstly, How well lit up was the truck which the first taxi hit and was it moving or stationery? This truck is as responsible as the drivers who were speeding and hit it. Was the truck roadworthy? Was it broken down and stationery and if so did it have hazard lights on and reflectors so that it was visible to any other road users? Had it pulled right off the road or was it in the yellow lane pulled over for a rest? If the driver had pulled over for a rest or broken down had he taken the trouble to take his hazard triangles out and set them up as a warning a good 100 metres from where the truck was parked? All these factors have a direct bearing on what led to the taxi's actually hitting it in the first place. If it was moving very slowly and poorly lit that tends to indicate that the truck was unroadworthy to start with and that possible the driver of the first taxi presumed to be amnong the deceased did not see this vehicle until the last moment when it was too late to take evasive action. SPEED KILLS and the taxi drivers were "speeding"; if they were travelling at 120 on a national road then they were not speeding - the truck which they hit was in the wrong lane travelling much slower and so on? All of us have encountered this kind of situation at one time or another and even if the taxi had been travelling at 100kmh the results would have been ctastrophe

  • Jason - 2011-11-16 12:58

    @pmyburgh, South African society was doing just fine before the taxis. @Clement, NOT MY PROBLEM bro, those that cant afford their own car are the same ones pitching up religiously at shabeens on Friday after work and crawling home on Sunday evening, and in some instances Monday morning straight back to work, still drunk... Please don't subject us to yet another PD pity party. Fact of the matter remains, SA roads would be 1000 times safer without taxis on them, and its a pity that 'our' government will never do anything about it. Welkom by Suid Afrika!!

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