The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government will assist the families of 18 school children and two adults who were killed during a horrific accident in Pongola on Friday, acting premier Nomagugu Simelane said on Monday.
“Our teams will be here to talk to families and see whether they are willing to conduct a mass funeral,” said Simelane.
“The provincial government will support the families with funeral arrangements, counselling of family members and pupils in affected schools, and ensure that justice is done. After inspecting the scene, we are convinced that it [the accident] is tantamount to murder and the driver should be charged as such. We need to teach others a lesson through him [the driver].”
Simelane also announced other interventions to ensure that a similar tragedy does not happen again. Immediate interventions will include setting up speed humps and increasing law-enforcement officials on the roads who will work with the provincial road traffic inspectorate and local traffic officers.
She added that the provincial government will soon meet with the SA National Roads Agency Limited to discuss the possible expansion of the N2 Pongola strip, however, the project will take a few years to complete.
Simelane noted that the provincial government will also read the riot act to trucking companies whose drivers continue to “bully” other road users.
In footage that went viral on social media, the truck driver is seen overtaking on a solid line and colliding with a bakkie with 20 passengers – 18 school children and two adults – who all perished on the N2 highway in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
The driver was charged with culpable homicide when he appeared at the Pongola magistrate’s court on Monday. The case was postponed to September 26 and the suspect was remanded in police custody.
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