Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga has expressed concern at the high level of vehicle crashes and fatalities that have occurred in the country recently.
“In recent past weeks, there were some equally gruesome accidents that robbed our country of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, families, and young children who had the potential to grow up and make a meaningful contribution to developing our country,” Chikunga said on Friday in the Free State.
She made these remarks during her visit to Riebeckstad High School, where six pupils died and more than 40 others were injured when the driver of a bus lost control and the vehicle overturned on February 6, 2024, between Senekal and Welkom.
“This is unacceptable behaviour and conduct. It is unacceptable because we know that road crashes are preventable and avoidable. Every driver knows that we all have responsibilities not to drive vehicles with faulty brakes, worn tyres, or that are unroadworthy.
“Each year, the lives of South Africans are cut short because of road traffic crashes. Moreover, thousands of people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many becoming disabled as a result of injuries suffered during road crash incidents.
“While we have intensified efforts to communicate road safety messages through different mediums, it is unfortunate that road users’ attitude and behaviour towards obeying the rules of the road remain main factors significantly contributing to fatalities on the road, and as such, this calls for more education targeted at behavioural change,” the Minister said.
Chikunga noted that human error was not a contributing factor in the crash, as the nuts on the left rear wheels were not tightly secured, resulting in the wheels coming off and causing the crash.
“The bus driver would not have been aware of this problem, as this was a mechanical error that the mechanics who worked on the bus previously should have identified before the bus left the workshop.
“I call on the police and everyone involved in the investigation to finalise their investigation sooner to enable families to find closure.
“On behalf of the government of South Africa, and particularly the transport family, we send our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the families of the learners who died. To those that are recuperating in hospitals and at home, we wish them a speedy recovery,” the minister said. –SAnews.gov.za