A memorial service for eight people who died in a head-on collision between a taxi and a truck on the R27 earlier this month, was held outside the Dunoon municipal hall on Wednesday in Milnerton Cape Town.
There were touching tributes by pastors from different churches, community leaders, and taxi bosses, with eulogies by family members, all of whom gathered in the yard outside the hall.
The horror smash happened on Tuesday morning of June 8, less than a year since a similar horrific accident claimed the lives of eight people in October 2020.
In a statement following the accident of June 8, ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said seven people were killed and ten injured when a truck and taxi collided on the R27 in Melkbosstrand. One patient later died in hospital.
“ER24, Life Healthcare, Community Medics, Western Cape Metro and Western Cape Fire arrived on the scene to find the truck and taxi on the sides of the busy road. The local authorities closed off the road while medics and rescue personnel tended to the patients. On assessment, medics found that seven people, some still trapped inside the taxi, had sustained fatal injuries in the collision,” stated Meiring.
Meiring stated ten other patients were assessed and found to have sustained critical to minor injuries and were given emergency treatment before being taken to hospital, one of whom later died.
Van Wyk confirmed that eight people died as a result of the accident, including the truck driver.
As of 18 June, seven patients were still being treated in hospital.
A culpable homicide docket has been opened for investigation.
“The warning statement of [the minibus] taxi driver was obtained and filed in a case docket, (he is) not charged yet. Investigation continues,” said van Wyk.
Most of the deceased were Malawian citizens working in Melkbosstrand.
Speaking at the memorial, one of the deceased’s family members from Malawi, Anderson Mamela, told the service that his sister Grace Mbewu, 53, from Thyolo district in that country, died in the horrific accident. Mamela said his sister leaves behind four children and that she was the breadwinner of her family.
He said Mbewu was planning to return to her home country in October, “but instead of going in October her trip has been brought forward by death and she is now going in June”.
“The accident was so sudden. Everyone is going to die at some point. Death is death no matter what nationality,” said Mamela.
Dunon taxi bosses had pledged to donate R5,000 to each of the grieving families.
Dunoon Taxi Association (DTA) chairman, Sivuyile Tshaka, said his association condemns the accident and the taxi driver, according to all available evidence, failed to yield at a clearly marked traffic sign.
He said his association had met with all the aggrieved families and apologised to them.
“We didn’t buy taxis to kill them (passengers) but to transport them safely,” said Tshaka.
He said the DTA will host a training workshop for minibus taxi drivers to teach them to drive responsibly and protect their passengers’ lives.
“We don’t want to see this happening. It is destroying our reputation,” he said.
Ward 104 (ANC) councillor Lubabalo Makeleni said the DTA must take full responsibility for the taxi drivers recklessness on public roads.
“As leadership we can not allow this to go on for so long. The community must hold the taxi association to account. This is why I proposed, at the memorial service, for a commuters forum to be established, to be able to bring forward commuters’ frustrations to the taxi bosses executive. For example, even when they raise minibus taxi fares, they do not consult anyone. They are self regulating which is unfair, they represent their own interests,” said Makeleni.
Surrounding communities have in the meanwhile come to the aid of families stricken by the death of their loved ones.
Posting on a Melkbosstrand Facebook group, Fraser Gregg shared a “taxi accident fund donation”, stating that a trust account had been set up with a law firm STBB.
On Thursday June 17 he posted: “As of 10am this morning a total of R42 999.00 has been donated – thanks everyone, it is beyond awesome that we have come together as a community to help those in need, Thank you Thank You!!!.”
He stated the first payment was to be made on Friday June 18 to all 16 recipients. The money will help them cover the R25,000 cost of returning a body to Malawi.
The fundraising target is R200,000, and anyone willing to provide financial assistance can contribute until July 8.
On October 26 last year, eight people were killed and 13 were injured following a head-on collision between a Dunoon minibus taxi and another vehicle on the road between Melkbosstrand and Philadelphia.
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