Tragic start to the long weekend for some

2015-06-12 20:26
Twelve people were lucky to escape a rockfall on the N2 at Sir Lowry's Pass late on Sunday afternoon. (Werner Vermaak, ER24)

Twelve people were lucky to escape a rockfall on the N2 at Sir Lowry's Pass late on Sunday afternoon. (Werner Vermaak, ER24)

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Johannesburg - The Youth Day long weekend started tragically with three children and an adult on a school trip among those killed or seriously injured in several accidents, some possibly caused by weather, across the country on Friday.

With many schools closing on Monday to stretch the weekend to the June 16 Youth Day public holiday on Tuesday, the roads were expected to be busier than usual as families took a short winter break.

Toll company Trans African Toll Concessions warned of poor visibility on the roads mainly due to heavy mist in the early morning or at night.

It urged users to switch on their head lights, increase following distances, lower driving speeds during adverse conditions on their routes along the N4 and to be patient.

They warned against overtaking or stopping on the side of the road when visibility was poor.

Winter veld fires next the roads were also reducing visibility as the smoke swirled over the road.

There was road maintenance and repairs along the N4 connecting Tshwane and Maputo, Mozambique, with minor delays on some parts of the route. Motorists were asked to adhere to the road warnings at the sections.

The South African Weather Service said Thursday night's rains had moved to the east of the country with temperatures expected to creep up from the past few days' cold and fog.

''We don't expect any more rain and showers except in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal where there will still be showers and thunderstorms and then the system is moving away,'' forecaster Jan Vermeulen said.

Saturday was expected to be clear, but cold overnight with frost.

The chills would be back on Sunday night with rain moving in to the south-western Cape.

Visitors to parts of the Drakensberg and Lesotho should bundle up as snow fell overnight on Thursday.

Nationally paramedics have been kept busy with two people killed on the N12 between Ventersdorp and Colingny in the North West during thick mist. Netcare911 said when they arrived on the scene, the road was littered with accident debris from the three-vehicle crash.

The rain in Pretoria was believed to have been behind a woman's close shave on Friday morning when she skidded off an icy road and into a wall, stopping with half the car hanging over a short drop.

The three children accompanying her were not injured. 

In Ballito three school children and a woman were killed when their school bus and a truck crashed at the Compensation Road intersection, while in Johannesburg 28 people were injured in a 16-vehicle pile-up in Benoni in the morning.

The South African National Roads Agency incident report by knock-off time on Friday contained a list of accidents on highways and byways reducing lane availability and reports of stationary vehicles or those simply parked in the emergency lane.

The Bakwena N1/N4 toll company in the country's north west, which operates routes to Bela-Bela and the Botswana border, warned of high traffic volumes along the N1 and asked drivers to plan their journeys and wear seatbelts.

''Your actions in the car will affect what happens on the road - be a calm and responsible driver,'' said the N3 Toll Concession operating between Heidelberg and KwaZulu-Natal.

The company also warned the annual burning of firebreaks would take place near parts of the route until July and warned drivers to not drive through heavy smoke.

"Let the passengers do the tweeting so you can focus on the driving," it added.

Read more on:    weather  |  accidents

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