Home | NEWS | 5 die, 3 survive in sedan accident

5 die, 3 survive in sedan accident

image Remnants of the Toyota Etios after the horrific accident (Pics: Lusito Tsela)

A sedan laden with eight passengers claimed five lives when it’s driver lost control and the car careened down a rocky embankment when it failed to negotiate the kaVilakati road curve at Msahweni, Bhunya.

According to preliminary investigations by Bhunya Traffic Police, the accident, which happened on Thursday evening aroung 9:30 pm, was suspected to have been caused by  speeding which was exacerbated by an allegedly inebriated driver.

Three passengers were pronounced dead on the spot while the other two were found in the morning, taking the toll of dead bodies to five. When this publication arrived, dogs were found licking blood from the scene.

It is alleged that the sedan flew more than 100 metres from the main road to where it first crashed because that is where signs of a destroyed aloe tree  were seen, and the other two victims were found. The car ended more than 300 metres down the hill. Residents of Bhunya could not believe anyone could survive that crush.

However, three of the passengers including the driver of the sedan Sifiso Mkhatjwa survived the dreadful accident. Two of them are admitted at the Mankayane Government Hospital and they are in a critical condition, the other surviving passenger identified as Fortune Maseko is also in a critical condition and admitted at the Mbabane Clinic .

Zakhele Dlamini who was called to identify the bodies at Dups said he was only able to identify one of the three bodies. Dlamini said that the other three bodies were in a bad state and he could not identify them.”  I was able to identify one and that is Sipho Kappa Mkhatjwa who was Sifiso’s younger brother, the driver of the sedan. I was able to identify him because i was his supervisor at work,” said Dlamini. Zakhele further alleged that he was with all of them on Thursday night before the accident at the Bhunya club where they were all having drinks. He said he had to leave them because he was tired and wanted to sleep because he had work the next morning.

Last seen enjoying drinks at the Club
Zakhele Dlamini was the last person to see the victims on the day. Dlamini said he last saw the victims enjoying drinks at the Bhunya Club.
 He alleged that he received a call from Fortune Maseko, a good friend of his to come and enjoy drinks with them at the club.
Dlamini said he received the invitation at around 7pm when he knocked off at work and he decided to honour the invite and join them at the club. However, Dlamini alleged that he did not know all of the victims which made him uncomfortable to be around them so he decided to make an excuse to leave. Dlamini left the club around 8 pm saying he had to work early in the morning so he needed to get home and sleep. 
Dlamini alleged that he was told the victims left the club around 9 pm on Thursday heading to a club in Matsapha.
Police called to scene three hours later

Due to the obscure place where the crumpled vehicle landed, there were no witnesses to call emergency services and two bodies were only found in the morning.
According to reports, the driver of the vehicle was only able to make a call for help about three hours after the accident as he was knocked out by the impact of the crashing car which made several turns on the rocks lining the embankment.
Even then, the police and ambulance were only able to reach the vehicle at about 2 am, rushing the six victims they found to the hospital, where some were certified dead on arrival.
Assuming that this could be the maximum number of people who could have been aboard the vehicle, a police officer revealed how they were shocked to find two more bodies in the morning when the scene was inspected.
“The driver contacted the police at midnight after momentarily regaining his senses and was able to direct them to the accident,” the officer said.
“When we got there, six passengers were found. Three of them were mangled beyond recognition and presumed dead, something that was certified at the hospital,” the officer stated.
The three survivors, including the driver, were rushed to Mankayane Government hospital and were as of yesterday in a critical condition.
The two bodies were found a distance away from the car, which is why they were not seen during the search at night since it was dark and the search team which included the police and the fire department went straight to the car which was approximately 300metres down the hill away from the main road.
The driver will still face charges of overloading, speeding and alleged driving under the influence, among other charges, alleged the police officer.
Chief Police Assistant Information and Communications Officer Phindile Vilakati confirmed the accident saying the three survivors were transferred to Mbabane Hospital where they are currently admitted.
Road needs speed humps, concrete barriers
Sibusiso Ngcamphalala, a dejected Bhunya resident said they need speed humps on the road for motorists to reduce their overall speeds, including the number of drivers going faster than the limit, because this is not the first accident to have happened in the same area.
Dlamini further said the introduction of concrete barriers along the Bhunya road, preferably on the sharp comer at Msahweni would play a pivotal role as concrete barriers offer maximum protection for drivers and can be extremely effective in containing vehicles. 
“Although this accident has robed five people their lives, more than 3 vehicles have fallen victim to the same road which is why i think speed humps and concrete barriers need to be introduced to prevent more accidents from happening,” said Dlamini.
Grief stricken families at a loss for words
Bereaved family members of the victims were at a loss for words. Gilbert ‘Too boy’ Mkhatjwa said he had hoped never see the day when he had to bury one of his children. Mkhatjwa is the father of Sipho Kappa Mkhatjwa and Sifiso Mkhatjwa.
The late Sipho Kappa Mkhatjwa is the younger brother of Sifiso Mkhatjwa, the driver of the Toyota Etios who is currently fighting for his life at the Mankayane Government Hospital.
Mkhatjwa said he last saw Kappa on the morning of the accident and as for Sifiso; he came back from work and watched television before taking the car and leaving without a word. “It is painful to hear such because i have previously advised them to take care of their lives and always leave the car behind whenever they are going out at night.”
Sifiso called during the interview with his father and asked where his younger brother was, which painfully his father told him he was still at hospital under critical condition. Mkhatjwa alleged that he did not want to tell him the truth because he feared what the sad news would do to him knowing how close he was to how his brother.
Lamenting the death of his son, Mkhatjwa said he is a single father and does not know what to do with the sad news because he has nothing and will not afford to cater for the funeral and appeals to the public for help. Mkhatjwa is a former Sappi employee who lost his job when Sappi was closed, and now  generates an income from odd jobs from time to time. Mkhatjwa said he would appreciate any help from the public and anyone who can lend a hand, can contact him at 76356900.
The accident also robbed Telamsile Hlatjwako her nephew. Hlatjwako confirmed that she received the news that her nephew has passed away, she was still in shock and did not know what to do. Our family lives under the poverty line and we have nothing to cater for the funeral, said Hlatjwako.
Sifiso Simelane, a 29-year old is survived by a 10 months old daughter. Telamsile Hlatjwako said even though Sifiso was not working, he still did everything to provide for his daughter. Telamsile also appeals to the public for help. Telamsile said anyone who wanted to lend a hand can contact the deceased’s mother on 76508076.
Fortune Maseko’s mother confirmed that her son was involved in the accident but said she was to be transferred to the Mbabane clinic private Hospital.
Montigny Usutu Executive Director Andrew Le Roux said they currently do not have enough information to make a formal statement, they have however been informed that there was a fatal accident near the Bhunya mill, involving a private vehicle, involving eight occupants, after a drinking spree that took place up until early hours Friday morning.
An employee of Montigny has been referred to hospital and not all families have been informed of the tragic incident. “We send our sincere condolences to the families of the deceased for this terrible accident.” 

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