Knysna school bus 'overloaded'

2011-08-25 11:31

Cape Town - The driver of a 32-seater bus involved a crash in which 14 school pupils were killed in Knysna on Wednesday had allegedly tried to transport 58 school children in one trip instead of two, the Knysna executive mayor said on Thursday morning.

"I believe the driver was supposed to fetch the first lot of children and then return to fetch the rest," Georlene Wolmarans told eNews.

"Yesterday, he transported them all in one trip and I believe that is what caused the bus to be overloaded."

The children and the bus driver died when he lost control of the vehicle on a low bridge and it plunged into a dam on the way to school.

'Black day for Knysna'

Another 44 children were injured, and were taken to Knysna provincial hospital with back and neck pain, and mild hypothermia.

They had all been discharged by Thursday morning.

The children were pupils at the Rheenendal Primary School and were aged between 7 and 14.

Wolmarans said Wednesday had been a "black day" for Knysna.

She said the town was working with the provincial transport department to make the road safer to use.

The Western Cape education department is investigating why the bus was overloaded.

"According to our records the vehicle approved for transport on this route is a bus that seats 67 learners," MEC Donald Grant said.

"Sixty-five learners are registered on this route in our learner transport scheme. However, the bus involved in today's accident is a 32-seater bus, which is usually assigned to another bus route," he said.

There were limited circumstances where buses could be substituted, Grant said.


Condolences continued to come in for the families of the children on Thursday morning.

The Western Cape Provincial Community Police Board pleaded with authorities to "act decisively" to prevent another accident from happening.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union said the Road Transport Management Co-operation had to employ more traffic officers to ensure roads were made safer.

"Road safety education must be made part of the school curriculum to produce responsible road behaviour for drivers, pedestrians and passengers alike," it said.

President Jacob Zuma sent his condolences to the parents of the children on Wednesday night.

A memorial was held for the children at Rheenendal Primary School on Thursday morning.

  • talkischeap - 2011-08-25 11:40

    Maybe it's a blessing in disguise that the bus driver passed away as well seing he allowed the bus to be overloaded. Nevertheless let this be a lesson: overloading a vehicle is just wrong and illegal.

      ALISON - 2011-08-25 12:17

      i think it's a pity he did not survive so he could be prosecuted and forced to live with the consequences of his actions.

      Coin - 2011-08-25 12:27

      I think you both missing the point. "Cape Town - The driver of a 32-seater bus involved a crash in which 14 school pupils were killed in Knysna on Wednesday had allegedly tried to transport 58 school children in one trip instead of two, the Knysna executive mayor said on Thursday morning... PROBLEM? Exhorbitant fuel prices and taxes on South Africans!

      nobokjoy - 2011-08-25 12:48

      you are a scumbag

      jobho - 2011-08-25 14:48

      I wouldn't rush to blame the driver, if the route was supposed to have a 67 seater bus and a 32 seater bus comes, thats not always the driver's decision. Probably he was told to take the small bus and take the children on one go. that saves the 'bus company' on fuel and other running costs. With jobs especially in the transport sector so scarce would he say no? he is just another victim of profiteering bus companies who do not care about the safety of the children and their staff

      Coin - 2011-08-26 08:11

      @jobho = Exactly the point I was trying to make. Everyone runs to blame the driver, demanding he swing from the nearest high enough tree. Anyway, hopefully you made it a bit clearer for that/those moron/s who have given me so many thumbs down. My guess is, I have a stalker or 2 logged onto several internet supporting devices at once under different user names. I mean really, there cannot possibly be so many morons out there, hey?

      Mike - 2011-08-26 08:42

      You are an idiot - consider this - the bus is allowed to carry 32 ADULTS of an average weight of about 75 - 80 kilos vs 58 children with an average weight of 35 kilos - then what exactly is your point regarding the roadworthiness of the vehicle and the ability of the vehicle to perform the way it should? Get my point?

      Coin - 2011-08-26 10:00

      @ Mike - This is why there are rules and regulations. Did you take a look at the pics from the accident? The bus was lying nose down in the water. Had there only been 32 kids in the bus, then at least half, (7) of the kids would maybe have survived. 14 of them had obviously fallen to the front of the bus as it plunged over the side, crushed under the weight of 44 other kids. And you know how it works, the older, heavier kids always get to sit at the back of the bus. No, sorry I don't agree with you. Had the rules been obeyed or had the petrol price in South Africa been cheaper, then maybe, just maybe, at least 1 of the 3 kids from that one family would still be here today! The driver cannot be blamed, he was following instructions and also had a family to feed. The guys at the top must take the blame!

  • dotty_01 - 2011-08-25 11:40

    Another avoidable tragedy in SA. The driver is not around to defend himself. However, the Bus company is. Why did the parents/school allow an overloaded bus to transprt their children? This is presumably not the first time that this has happened.

      DW - 2011-08-25 12:10

      Dotty, I am not sure if you have children, but not everyone accompanies their children to the bus stop and waits with them until the bus arrives. Parents may not have been aware of the overloading.

      dotty_01 - 2011-08-25 12:39

      these children were between the ages of 7 and 14. if they are deemed as old enough by their parents to use public transport unaccompanied, then the very least that the parents can do is equip their children with the ability to ask the most basic of questions. what about the school? on the countless days that this bus arrived loaded beyond capacity, was there not ONE teacher or parent who considered complaining? The past cannot be undone, but perhaps lives can be saved going into the future: the bus company must be punished, the parents must become more aware of the pitfalls of living in a lawless society, the school must become more responsible and take more notice of how their pupils are arriving at school

      BobM - 2011-08-25 13:41

      dotty_01 in your second posting you are missing a very importent point, 'IF IT WAS KNOWN THAT OVERLOADING WAS TAKING PLACE WHERE WERE THE TRAFFIC POLICE?' If we had effective law enforcement in this country many tragies would be avoided!!

      dotty_01 - 2011-08-25 18:52

      bob, we cannot rely on the police or traffic officers. unfortunately this goes without saying. in its absence, we need to take precautions and think for ourselves. sad but true. it is a pointless task pointing fingers at law enforcement...

      BobM - 2011-08-25 22:07

      Dotty you have a point that we all need to take precautions and think for ourselves however by just accepting that law enforcement is not up to scratch is wrong they are paid to do a job and they need to get on with it and do their jobs. Accepting poor service will only perpetuate poor service levels. We have to stand up for our rights.

      dotty_01 - 2011-08-26 07:26

      bobm, you are preaching to the converted. sadly, i admit that i dont believe that there is much hope around this. so, i take every precaution i can; and spend an awful amount of money trying to provide my family with the protection that our friends in the police force are either unable or unprepared to provide us with. how does we stand up for our rights? how? i am not into tipping over dustbins and causing mayhem...... actually it is just easier to leave the country - and we have indeed opted for route - fighting the impossible is not worth it - i would rather go to a country that does as you says - i.e. protects its citizens from harm.

      Mike - 2011-08-26 08:44

      Yes overloaded in numbers only but not in mass! If there were 32 front row rugby players on the bus and it ended up in the drink - what would your lesson be regarding overloading? Please explain?

  • gaeleen - 2011-08-25 11:51

    to say a bus carry small children was 'overloaded' when transporting around 6 extra passengers is a tad stupid. these are small people not large adults so weight wise it should not be an issue. the problem seems to be more mechanical - 1 the bus stalled and 2 it rolled back - where what happened to the brakes. my heartfelt sympathy to all who have lost children in this disaster and do not say the above to take away any horror from what has happened, but at the same time look at the cause of this accident - the department MUST ensure that transportation used is ROADWORTHY.

      APPLEPIE - 2011-08-25 12:06

      No, there were 26 extra passengers, not six. 58 minus 32 equals 26!!!! I'd say you are a tad stupid. The bus was definately overloaded.

      chat-chat - 2011-08-25 12:09

      @ gaeleen Your maths is not too good, 58 passengers in a 32-seater bus means 26 extra passengers, not 6 extra. I do agree, though that it is incomprehensible that unworthy public transport is permitted to transport anyone - but surely when children are transported there should be even more vigilence. Too many unworthy vehicles are on our roads - no lights, bad brakes, etc. No wonder our road accident stats are so horrendous.

      King - 2011-08-25 12:12

      The issue is even if it was mechanical failure, the mere fact that there were more passesngers than 32 means the chances of a lot of people dying was greatly increased. There were 26 more children in the bus than there should've been.

      DW - 2011-08-25 12:12

      gaeleen, where do you get that the bus was allowed to carry 52 people? It was a 32 seater bus. I dont think that a 32 seater allows 20 standing passengers - would be 10 at most.

      Grant - 2011-08-25 12:13

      gaeleen, maths not your strong point? The bus was carrying 58 pupils. licenced for 32, that is 26 extra passengers, not 6, that equates to 80% extra passengers than licensed for - that is overloaded! The bus may have well stalled because the engine capacity was not designed for that weight and it was struggling up the hill, and again the brakes could not hold as they are not designed for the extra weight. Negligence/incompetence/greed are the more likely causes of this tragedy.

      Dayat Atime - 2011-08-25 12:17

      Except buses that roll backwards into rivers are not found with the back end sticking out of the water

      My Comment - 2011-08-25 12:26

      Applepie, the message in Gaeleen's comment is actually important. On average a child of less than 12 years in age will weigh less than halve an adult's weight. So most likely the bus was not overloaded in terms of weight. The fact that the passenger number is more than the seats the bus has, should not detract from the fact that other possibilities could have caused the accident. So don't be 'stupid' too.

      dotty_01 - 2011-08-25 12:40

      oh dear, did you pass grade 4 maths? my 9 year old could have calculated this more accurately.

      SuperDooper - 2011-08-25 12:59

      In terms of weight, it is likely that the bus was NOT overloaded. Children between 7 and 14 would likely not weigh more than half an adult so strictly speaking the bus could possibly have been deemed fit for as much as 64 children. People here must really get their facts straight, even though a "maximum number of passengers" is specified, it all comes down to weight at the end of the day. A vehicles brakes, tyres, suspension, etc is made to cope with WEIGHT. Was it responsible to carry so many passengers, absolutely not, but that's another matter.

      Chicita - 2011-08-25 13:16

      Wow your maths must be really bad... There were 58 kids in a 32 seater bus. That means that there were 26 extra kids on the bus, not 6! I don't know about you, but I would say that 26 extra kids makes the bus extremely overloaded - no matter how small the people were! This was such a sad and avoidable tragedy and my condolences go out to all the families who lost their children. This shouldn't have happened and I hope that we can stop hearing of such stories.

      Ginseng - 2011-08-25 14:56

      Some idiots on here (such as APPLEPIE and co) don't seem able to grasp the concept that the bus was not overloaded in terms of weight. If an elevator says 10 people max (1000kg) that is because it assumes that if 10 people got in its is highly unlikely that their total mass would be above 1000kg. However, if 6 seriously obese people got in weighing 200kg each then the elevator would be overloaded, regardless of the fact that there aren't even 10 people in. That bus could could probably carry about 3500kg. 58 children weighing on average 50kg (though probably much less then that) would weigh a total of 2900kg. I don't know how to explain it any better then that. If you guys still can't grasp the concept then there is no help for you.

      Mike - 2011-08-26 08:38 - Now - if there were 32 ADULTS on the bus weighing an average of say 75 kilos each and the bus ended up in the drink, then what will your argument be? Let's be rational - sure it was overloaded by the NUMBER of perons on the bus - but having been given the ages of the majority of those kiled then it is in all probability that the total weight of the children was LESS than that of 32 adults!!! Get my point?

  • Pictureof - 2011-08-25 11:53

    Heavy Days.

  • motsokwane - 2011-08-25 12:01

    Overloading is not a new thing and the parents are not challenging the owners for the safety of their children.

  • POLAR_BEAR - 2011-08-25 12:05

    How far was this bus travelling in this overloaded state? Why did traffic officials not notice that the bus was overloaded? Why was this stretch of road never attended to? There is simply no will from government departments to ensure law enforcement on our roads.

  • lollie sue - 2011-08-25 12:09

    This is so sad, may the children rest in PEACE.

  • leomom - 2011-08-25 12:11

    how can you can blessing in disguise - the man is dead, his family will also suffer along with the families of the children, he cannot even defend himself and say what happened - sis man you people are pigs - Leo

  • betha - 2011-08-25 12:18

    non road worthy buses for our future while our incompetent scum drive around in new BMW's and Mercedes........

  • sone.mills - 2011-08-25 12:24

    I am living in Rheenendal and the driver is a family member of mine. People stop making accusations and stop judging. We can't turn back the clock. Nobody knows why this happened. Please stop making your own accusations.

  • kaas1 - 2011-08-25 12:24

    'Overloading' kan nie die probleem wees nie want kinders van daardie ouderdom se gewig gaan definitief nie meer wees as 32 volwassenes wees nie.Die blaam word al klaar op verkeerde plek gesoek. Daar was eerder iets meganies fout sal ek se.

      Leon - 2011-08-25 12:40

      Kaas ek stem volkome saam met jou ek bly in Kempton park en ry so 11 kilo's werk toe en kry omtrent elke oggend 2 van die klein bussies 32 seaters wat kinners skool to vat en ek se nou vir jou dis flippen DEATH TRAPS wat die verkeer ophou teen 30 km/h mens kan sommer sien die goed word nie geonderhou nie net soos van die minibus TAXIS wat op ons paaie is ,wanner gaan die Bliksems wat met hulle duur bmw's em mercs ry wat tenvolle geonderhou word met ons tax gelde besef wat eintlik aan gaan op ons publieke paaie!!!!!!

  • 1GoodGirl - 2011-08-25 12:38

    Easy to pass the buck when the accused is not there to defend himself. He (the driver) probably did this everyday without a problem (and possibly on orders). We will never know what really happened there!

  • drmsa - 2011-08-25 12:51

    every single bus on the roads today is rated by the number of seated passangers it may carry - these passengers are determined as average-sized adults! ALL BUSSES ARE ALSO PERMITTED TO CARRY STANDING PASSENGERS - again averaged-sized adults - whether 26 standing children is overloading or not is not the issue - the fact is the bus went over the side and into water. 14 kids and 1 adult died - why are there so few emergency exits in busses?

  • Immac - 2011-08-25 13:07

    Yes its very heartsaw to hear about that tragedy, evrybody is saying this and that, unfortunately it was their time to go in that horror way, but what can we do. Thats a lesson to each and evry1 of us, cause evrybody say what if this or that, we cant question God's work. I'm feeling very sorry for all that parents who lost their children, but what about the bus driver's wife or his children, maybe he was the only bread winner in the house. Please people think about them also, maybe there was a problem which he also didn't know of, remember things happen in mysterious ways. God be with all of them.......

  • APPLEPIE - 2011-08-25 13:21

    @My comment, what are you saying? It seems that you think it's OK for a 32-seater bus to transport 58 learners. Gaeleen said that the reporting was a tad stupid, as the bus only had six extra passengers. Well, there is a vast difference between six extra passengers and 26 extra passengers, and I think that it is important that the reporter mention this. If there had only been the allowed 32 learners on the bus, there would almost certainly have been fewer fatalities. Sure, there are probably other factors - I do not disagree with this. PS Spelling mistake - not 'halve' but 'half'. Stupid.

      Mike - 2011-08-26 08:32

      How do you know there would of been fewer fatalities?

  • Parker.Daniella - 2011-08-25 13:46

    I think there were just too many factors that added to this tragic event. Being at school and remembering that teachers would either accompany the students or locate the students to a bus not the bus driver. The bridge that the bus was crossing looks completely unsafe with only a barrier to the left! You can go on blaming but at the end of the day its the wrong choices made. When you take your child to school you expect them to be taken care of, not have to worry all day if your child is in danger. Love going out to the families!g at school and remembering that teachers would either accompany the students or locate the students to a bus not the bus driver. The bridge that the bus was crossing looks completely unsafe with only a barrier to the left! You can go on blaming but at the end of the day its the wrong choices made. When you take your child to school you expect them to be taken care of, not have to worry all day if your child is in danger. Love going out to the families!

  • Phuti - 2011-08-25 13:50

    People like taking chances with other people's lives. As I understand it the bus's brakes have been defective for a while and the driver knew and did nothing about it.

      jobho - 2011-08-25 14:45

      Are you sure its the driver's problem and not the company problem? dont shoot the messenger. the message the bus company was sending is that we can crame 58 children in a 32 seater and make more money without traffic cops getting to us. If I understand correctly the driver does not choose the bus ar route he wants to use, he is assigned on a duty roaster and he follows like a sheep going to the slaughter. do you really think he also wanted to drive a defective bus endangering his life every single day?

      Mike - 2011-08-26 08:31

      The driver is dead - who says he knew?

  • pig - 2011-08-25 14:49

    they should have a traffic officer at the pick up points and arrest the driver immediately for overloading and have his license revoked and a jail sentence without the option of a fine!!!

  • Winsome - 2011-08-25 15:54

    The bottom line here is that there are just too many vehicles on our roads that are overloaded - just see how many passengers get out of a mini bus taxi when it has broken down on the side of the road - and if there were seats on the bus for 20-something of those little children does that mean the rest of them were standing? The bus company has a lot to answer for - not the unfortunate driver.

      Mike - 2011-08-26 08:29

      See my comment below regarding an empty bus i.e. the number of extra pupils on that bus of the ages given means absolutely 'call to the performance of the vehicle.

  • Dok - 2011-08-25 19:21

    Time to go after the bus company! Punish them, and punish them hard! If not, we await the next bus tragedy involving children!

  • Mike - 2011-08-26 07:46

    The fact that it was overloaded by about 23 pupils has absolutely nothing to do with the roadworthiness of the vehicle - even if it had no pupils on the bus and the brakes failed it would still have ended up where it did!

  • CyberDog - 2011-08-26 08:14

    You are all missing the point. if you look at the pictures of that road the accident took place on... There was one very very simple point that could have stopped this accident in being a tragedy ... the barriers on the side of the road by the river was missing .. NO Barriers by a river, what kind of road planning is that. The government is taking massive quantities of money for road works, then charging toll fees on top of that, and this is the shoddy result... death that could have been easily avoided. Whether the bus was overloaded or not is completely irrelevant. No matter how many people were on that bus, someone would have died when it rolled into a river. It should NEVER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ROLL INTO a freaking river... Once again, someone dies, thank you to government incompetence and corruption. Why was that road not completed. "Employing more traffic officers".. what are the traffic officers going to do, complete building the roads ?

  • pages:
  • 1