Dozens of family members of nine mineworkers who died in an accident on the N11 between Hendrina and Middelburg in Mpumalanga last week gathered at the forensic pathology services centre at the Middelburg Hospital on Tuesday to identify the bodies of their loved ones.
The grief-stricken family members took turns to walk into the mortuary building, where forensic pathology workers extracted DNA samples from them. The samples would be used to identify the bodies of their loved ones.
Steven Madonsela told News24 that his family was struggling to come to terms with the death of his 36-year-old younger brother, Majawodwa Madonsela.
"The accident happened shortly after he was formally employed by the company," said Madonsela.
"His death has left us in pain. We have lost a young man who had a good future ahead of him."
Majawodwa's mother, Martha Ndinisa, was shedding tears and too distraught to speak to the media, while his aunt Maria Zulu told of how excited he had been after getting the job.
"Majawodwa called his girlfriend and told her to come and celebrate with him," said Zulu.
"We were also very happy for Majawodwa for getting the job. He was the only one taking care of his mother. We don't know who is going to care for her now," said a sobbing Zulu.
A short prayer session was held inside the forensic pathology services building by family members and government officials. Weeping could be heard during the prayers, as many family members struggled to compose themselves.
The accident happened on Friday afternoon between Middelburg and Hendrina,when a Toyota Quantum minibus collided with an articulated truck, according to Department of Community Safety spokesperson Moeti Mmusi.
The minibus burst into flames in the crash.
"The nine people who died were passengers in the minibus and eight of them were burnt beyond recognition. The drivers of both vehicles were slightly injured and treated at the hospital," said Mmusi.
The nine deceased mineworkers had been working near Middelburg for a group of companies called Als Group.
Public Works, Roads and Transport MEC Gillion Mashego said preliminary investigations had revealed the crash occurred when the driver of a bakkie overtook the truck.
"We are told by the engineer that a bakkie overtook the truck, and the driver of the Quantum swerved to the right to avoid colliding with the bakkie," Mashego told reporters.
"The Quantum then collided with an oncoming truck and the bakkie also overturned. Preliminary investigations are saying the driver of the bakkie is the one who caused the accident. He was released from the hospital yesterday."
It was not immediately clear when DNA tests would be concluded, but Mashego said the process would be sped up.
Addressing the same media gathering, Community Safety MEC Gabisile Shabalala said the government would fight road carnage by, among other things, encouraging motorists to rest during journeys.