School bus crash: authorities express shock

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pretoria - Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has conveyed his condolences to the families of the Western Cape school bus accident that reportedly killed 16 people, 15 of them children near Knysna.

The children are said to have been between the ages of seven and 14.

It's believed the driver lost control of the bus and plunged into a river. The Road Traffic Management Corporation has sent an accident investigation team and reconstruction specialists to assist the investigation into the crash.

"We cannot go on like this," Ndebele said in a statement.

"This horrific road crash in Knysna which claimed the lives of innocent school children is yet again an unnecessary loss of lives. We want to convey condolences to the families and colleagues of those killed, and wish the injured a speedy recovery," he said.

The statement said the accident happened barely hours after Ndebele and provincial Transport MECs committed to intensifying road safety programmes in their provinces.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga also expressed shock at the deaths.

"The Department of Basic Education would like to send sincere condolences to the families of the learners, and indeed the entire schooling community," she said in a statement.

Officials say at least 60 people have been killed in six separate crashes, all involving public transport vehicles in four provinces this month alone.

"South Africa can no longer afford a business-as-usual approach to road safety... the month of August has been horrific in terms of road crashes and deaths, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal," Ndebele said, adding that provinces and municipalities should already be putting in place road safety plans for September to ensure there is no recurrence of what happened on the roads during August.

"Each province and municipality must know where, when, why, who, what and how in terms of road deaths in their respective areas."

MECs and mayors had to ensure that all traffic chiefs provide a detailed weekly evaluation and analysis of road deaths for their policing areas, as well as corrective measures being implemented.

There must also be active participation from national, provincial and local government in to promote what is called a 'Decade of Action for Road Safety.'

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