Nine Zimbabweans, among them a toddler, were killed yesterday when the bus they were travelling in was involved in an accident along the N1 Highway outside Polokwane City, Limpopo Province in South Africa. It is reported that the victims were passengers in an Intercape bus that was travelling from Harare to Johannesburg.
Limpopo police spokesperson Col Moatshe Ngoepe said the accident occurred in the Westenburg policing area at around 5am.
"We are investigating a case of culpable homicide, where nine passengers lost their lives during a bus crash, which occurred along the N1 South Road," he said.
"It is alleged that the bus was travelling from the direction of Polokwane towards Gauteng Province at about 0500 hours when the driver allegedly lost control and it overturned. The bus was carrying 61 passengers including the driver and the crew, nine out of 61 were certified dead at the scene, all the injured people were taken to different hospitals for medical treatment.
"The preliminary police investigations revealed that the bus was travelling from Harare in Zimbabwe to Gauteng Province. The deceased were four men, four females and one toddler. The identification process of all the deceased is still unfolding".
He said they were still conducting investigations into the cause of the accident.
Zimbabwe's Consular-General to South Africa Mr Batiraishe Henry Mukonoweshuro described the incident as unfortunate.
"The consulate has been contacted by the South African authorities and Intercape management regarding this sad development. We are in the preliminary stages of identifying and ascertaining positively how many of the deceased are Zimbabweans. We will continue working with our host regarding the processes leading to notification of the deceased's relatives and conducting the appropriate repatriation.
"On behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe and on our own behalf, we wish to extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to those who lost their beloved ones.
"May they find strength and solace from the Almighty on this tragic and very sad loss. We also wish all those who were injured a quick recovery," said Mr Mukonoweshuro.
Limpopo Premier Mr Chupu Mathabatha noted with concern and regret the passing on of the passengers.
"We note with concern the death of nine people in yet another bus accident in Polokwane. This comes after 11 people en-route from Zambia to Johannesburg passed on in a bus accident again near Polokwane earlier this week, making the total number of bus deaths to nearly 21 in one week," he said.
The premier extended his condolences to the relatives of the accident victims. He also commended the emergency services, police and traffic officials for assisting the injured and the survivors of the road accident.
"I want to urge drivers, taxi and bus operators to assist in preserving the lives of their passengers on the road. As we approach the festive season, we will tighten our law enforcement and be merciless against transgressors," he said.
The N1 is the major commercial road which links South Africa and the rest of Sadc countries north of the Limpopo River.
The road has become a death trap, with over 30 people including Zimbabweans and Malawians having died in accidents in the last eight months.
In a separate incident, five people were yesterday killed, while 14 others were injured when a commuter omnibus they were travelling in veered off the road and overturned along Mazowe-Mvurwi Road.
The accident occurred at Tsatsi Bridge, near the Mutorashanga turn-off, according to police.
Acting Police spokesperson for Mashonaland Central Province Assistant Inspector Petros Masikati confirmed to ZBC News that four people died on the spot while the other one died upon arrival at Mvurwi Hospital. He said the injured 14 were rushed to Mvurwi, Concession and Parirenyatwa hospitals. According to police, the commuter omnibus was travelling from Harare to Guruve.
"Preliminary investigations has established that the commuter omnibus was speeding," said Assistant Inspector Masikati, appealing to motorists to exercise caution when approaching dangerous spots.