By Mandla Khoza
Komatipoort – The Road Accident Fund has agreed to help cover the funeral costs of 24 Mpumalanga farmworkers who died when a train collided with a truck on Friday morning.
The truck was carrying about 45 farm workers who were going to harvest oranges at Thulloh farm in Hectorspruit between Malalane and Komatipoort. The truck was crossing a railway line at about 7:45am when a goods train slammed into it.
“The Road Accident Fund has pledged to assist in the funeral arrangements for the 22 people who died in the accident involving the truck and the train. Nineteen people died on the spot, while two died on the way to hospital and three died in hospital,” said spokesman for the Mpumalanga Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison, Joseph Mabuza.
Mabuza said 21 people were in a critical condition at Shongwe, Tonga and Rob Ferreira hospitals.
Mpumalanga police spokesman Colonel Leonard Hlathi said police were investigating allegations that the truck driver did not have a driver’s licence.
“We are currently investigating a case of culpable homicide and will further investigate claims that the driver had no driver’s licence,” said Hlathi.
Meanwhile, Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC Vusi Shongwe has sent condolences to the bereaved families and has visited the injured workers at the three hospitals.
“This is a very sad situation for the province and I would like to send my condolences to the bereaved families and also wish the injured workers a speedy recovery,” said Shongwe on Friday.
Government has also conveyed its condolences to the families that have lost their loved ones in the accident.
“Government is deeply saddened by this incident. One death is one too many. Our prayers and thoughts are with the families of the farmworkers … We also wish the people who were injured in this accident a speedy recovery,” Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said.
He said government also commended the emergency service staff for their swift response to the scene and transportation of those injured to the nearest hospitals. – SAnews