RTMC Report Finds Articulated Truck Driver To Blame For Pongola Tragedy

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The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) report released Thursday on the deadly Pongola collision between a haulage truck and a bakkie has revealed the driver-error was to blame.

The collision on 16 September 2022 left 20 people – nearly all of them schoolchildren – dead.

The RTMC report released by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalul revealed that the driver of the articulated truck overtook multiple vehicles, where this action was prohibited.

The driver overtook the vehicles in a no-overtaking zone in a dangerous and unlawful manner.

“This driver recklessly overtook vehicles and drove on the oncoming lane for approximately 1.2 kilometres,” the report found.

“These vehicles had to swerve out of the way of the approaching truck.

“The driver never made any attempt to return to his correct lane, but continued driving against oncoming traffic, putting the lives of other motorists at risk.”

The report concludes that driver error was the major contributing factor to the root cause of the road crash.  

The bakkie was transporting 18 primary school children – aged between 5 and 13 – as well as a teacher.

All the people in the bakkie died at the scene of the crash.

“I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased,” said Minister Mbalula.  

“The tragic circumstances under which these young lives were cut short are heart wrenching and could have been avoided.  

“The tears in our eyes and the pain in our hearts must serve as a reminder of our collective responsibility to arrest the scourge on our roads and prevent loss of life that can be avoided.”

The driver blamed for the crash ran away from the cash scene and has since been arrested.

All the deceased will be laid to rest on Saturday, Minister Mbalula said.