KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Peggy Nkonyeni has expressed her heartfelt condolences to the families of the seven people who were burnt beyond recognition in a gruesome accident on the N3 in Hidcote on Monday.
The families are awaiting DNA results as tests are being conducted to authenticate the identities of their loved ones.
Nkonyeni said preliminary investigations revealed that at about seven kilometres towards the Mooi River Toll Plaza from the Escourt side, an accident involving a tanker truck and passenger bus occurred.
She said it was later discovered that there was bakkie that was stuck underneath the bus. The bus was travelling towards Durban.
It is alleged that the driver lost control of the bus, veered on to the northbound carriage way and collided with a truck then with a tanker. Upon impact the bus, tanker and bakkie caught fire.
According to the owner of the bakkie, there were seven people in the vehicle. They were all burnt beyond recognition as they were trapped underneath the bus.
Nkonyeni said all the vehicles that were involved in the accident have been taken to the Provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate Station in Escourt, and the tanker was recovered on Tuesday after decontamination. Investigations of culpable homicide and the exact cause of the accident are currently underway, said Nkonyeni.
“On behalf of the KwaZulu-Natal government we wish to extend our sincere condolences to all the affected families. This accident is one of the most gruesome accidents I have witnessed since I assumed office in this portfolio.
“It pains me that families had to lose their loved ones in such a horrific manner and have not yet found closure as the remains of the deceased still have to undergo extensive DNA testing and authentication.
“Once the DNA testing process has been finalised, the department will assist the families with the necessary arrangements for them to give their loved ones a dignified burial,” said Nkonyeni.
She reassured the bereaved families that government is working tirelessly to process the DNA testing of the deceased.
Nkonyeni also urged motorists to exercise extreme caution and be extra vigilant on the road, saying that a vast majority of accidents recorded on the provincial roads are because of human error and failure to adhere to the rules of the road.