UPDATE: Death toll from horror Eastern Cape taxi smash up to 15
Fifteen people were killed in a head-on collision between a taxi and a truck on the N2 on Wednesday afternoon.
Initial reports from the transport department said that 11 people were killed, but the number of fatalities has since been increased to 15. All were occupants in the taxi died.
Provincial transport department spokesperson Unathi Binqose told SowetanLIVE’ sister publication DispatchLIVE that a minibus taxi was travelling south, from eMaXesibeni, formerly Mount Ayliff, towards KwaBhaca, formerly Mount Frere, when it collided with a truck.
The truck’s two occupants, the driver and a passenger, were rushed to hospital with serious injuries.
The exact cause of the accident is not yet clear.
“It is very disturbing that at a time when the number of Covid-19 cases is climbing on daily basis, there are still those who have no regard for the regulations in place. The 70 percent passenger limit had been widely communicated and is known by everyone. It is this complete disregard for the rule of law that has led us to where we are today,” said Eastern Cape transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe.
“This one is really hard to take, especially at a time like this, when our roads are virtually deserted, when there’s minimal traffic flow due to the National Lockdown. Our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families during this difficult time.
“We also wish to call on those who, for whatever reasons, are permitted to use our roads during this lockdown to continue being cautious and adhering to the rules of the road at all times.”
The MEC extended her condolences to the families of the deceased.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said in a statement that the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s crash investigation unit would work with police to investigate the cause of the collision and ascertain if lockdown regulations were contravened.
Binqose said the road remained partially closed to traffic as rescue and recovery personnel were still busy on the scene.
The accident is a major setback to the province after it recorded a record low of eight fatalities during Easter.