12 dead in tragic accident near Howick

What should have been a happy road trip back home to Umlazi, Durban, ended in tragedy when a passenger jumped out of a moving taxi, resulting in an accident that claimed 12 lives.

It is alleged that a minibus taxi carrying people in KwaZulu-Natal, believed to be relatives, neighbours and friends traveling from a function in Impendle had stopped on the side of the road on Saturday after a passenger allegedly jumped off a moving taxi and subsequently died.

The incident occurred on the R617 between Howick and Mpophomeni around 19:30.

Private security officers, who were patrolling around the area, alerted the police to the incident. While the police were on scene investigating, passengers from the taxi and private security personnel were standing along side the road.

It is believed a Toyota bakkie travelling at high speed approached from behind and collided into the people and the vehicles parked there, including a SAPS van, the taxi and the private security vehicle.

A total of 10 people died on the scene, and another two died later in hospital.

One of the deceased is Sergeant Sizwe Madondo (37), who was stationed at Mpophomeni Police Station.

Leading the delegation that visited the accident scene and the bereaved families, acting MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Jomo Sibiya said they are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the people whose lives were claimed by tragic accidents in a very short period of time throughout the province.

“What I am seeing [at the scene] is shocking. It was a very gruesome accident scene.

“We want to plead with people to drive cautiously and treat cars on the road with caution. They need to think not only about themselves when driving, but also about other people as well.

“There is a bend here, which means the car was driving at a high speed and the driver only saw the stationery cars at a close rage and then lost control of his vehicle,” said Sibiya.

“We also lost a well experienced policeman who was stationed at Mpophomeni Police Station, Sergeant Madondo, and also members of a private security company, including the owner, Khulekani Magwaza.

“The government will be looking at ways of better dealing with the road traffic management.

“It is evident that it is just a matter of people observing the road traffic processes and management that is there. It is important that we respect our roads. People must take the responsibility of driving with caution and making sure that they make the safety of everyone their responsibility,” he said.

One of the survivors, Mxolisi Mzobe, from Umlazi said he is not in the right state of mind since he lost all of his friends.

“We were always together. On our way back, around 19:30, one passenger got out of the taxi and got hit on the guard rail.

“The taxi reversed and we rushed to him and found him lying flat over the guard rail. He was dead.

“The police came to take statements. When we were almost done, the two of us, who had survived, went inside the taxi as we were freezing outside.

“A few seconds after jumping into the taxi, which was on the side of the road, we heard a loud bang from the back.”

“The taxi moved to the other lane. I tried to open the doors, but they were locked. I managed to get out. I was in pain.

“As we speak, I am not in a right state of mind. It is the first time I am experiencing this. I have lost all my friends,” he said.

Mpophomeni Police Station commander Captain Aron Mchunu said the death toll moved to 12 after one of the victims died in hospital.

“This accident involved four cars. The investigation is ongoing.”

Describing the accident as a “huge loss”, Major-General Nozipho Madondo said they will continue to enforce law in the Mpophomeni area so that the community feels safe.

“We have our own psychologist who will provide counseling to every member that attended the scene.”

The driver of the bakkie is still in police detention.

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