South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday expressed his profound sadness and concern at a horrific bus crash that claimed at least 25 lives and injured 61 others.
“This tragedy leaves our country deeply saddened and forces us to focus yet again on the need for transport providers and other road users to exercise care and consideration on our roads,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.
The tragedy, which occurred on Monday morning, involved a bus carrying nearly 90 passengers, most of them pensioners and children.
The bus, travelling from Chebe to Butterworth in Eastern Cape Province, veered off the road and plunged into a deep gorge.
The driver reportedly lost control of the bus in the bushes down a steep area, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) said.
The exact cause of the crash was still under investigation, RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said.
Ramaphosa has directed Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula and the provincial government of the Eastern Cape to reach out to affected families and provide the necessary assistance, as well as to establish the factors that led to this tragedy.
“This is a sad day for the people of the Eastern Cape and our nation at large,” Ramaphosa said.
Safer roads begin with safer attitudes and behavior, he said.
“This tragedy is sadly yet another wake-up call to all of us to ensure that we arrive alive and those who are entrusted to our care arrive alive,” the president said.
“We must take care of one another as compatriots and, from this incident we see the need for us to be especially considerate towards elderly persons and children who depend on others to be conveyed around communities and the country,” he said.
The accident was believed to be the worst in South Africa in years.
Road carnage is a daily phenomenon in South Africa which has the world’s poorest road safety records.
The majority of the accidents that occur are caused by human factors, with, on average, over 40 people a day being fatally injured and at least 20 being left permanently disabled, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Enditem