South African President Jacob Zuma has attended the memorial service for the victims of the tragic March 15 bus accident in Hex River in the Western Cape province of South Africa. 24 people were killed in the accident, making one of South Africa’s most deadly traffic accidents.
The bus was transporting members of the 12 Apostles Church in Christ from a prayer meeting in Secunda in the northern Mpumalanga province back to their homes in Cape Town when the bus’s brakes failed as it was coming down the steep and winding Hex River valley pass. The bus driver struggled to maintain control of the bus and eventually veered off the road and into the rocky mountainside alongside the pass.
President Zuma conveyed his condolences to the family members of the victims and the survivors of the accident at the memorial service, stating that the entire South African government shares their grief. In his address to the attendees at the funeral, he paid his condolences on behalf of the people of South Africa and the government, to both the family members of those who had died as well as the congregation of the 12 Apostles Church in Christ.
South Africa’s roads are notoriously treacherous, with thousands of people being killed in road traffic accidents each year. Zuma acknowledged that drastic action needs to be taken to address the problem. He cautioned both motorists and pedestrians to be sure to heed traffic rules and regulations, and for public transport companies to ensure that their vehicles are well maintained and are safe to be carrying passengers.
Zuma added that there is a need for traffic officers to tighten down on road law enforcement, and that more tickets and fines should be issued to motorists that do not obey the rules of the road.
A thorough investigation into the accident is still underway, said a spokesperson from the Western Cape Transport Ministry. The results of the investigation may only be released in several weeks. Although the initial evidence points to brake failure as the cause of the accident, Transport Ministry spokesperson Siphesihle Dube said that investigators will also be assessing the safety record of the driver, who was one of the 24 people killed in the accident, and the roadworthiness of the bus. Investigations will also be conducted into the operations of the company that owned the bus.