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MINEWORKER ROAD DEATHS

De Beers’ Venetia diamond mine suspends operations after at least 20 die in a bus and truck collision

De Beers’ Venetia diamond mine suspends operations after at least 20 die in a bus and truck collision
The wreckage of a bus involved in an accident on the R572 near Musina in which at least 20 people died, including 18 mineworkers. (Photo: Limpopo Department of Transport and Community Safety)

De Beers’ Venetia diamond mine in Limpopo has suspended operations after at least 20 people died when a truck and a bus collided. The bus was transporting workers for a night shift at the mine.

At least 20 people died on Sunday, 17 September, in Musina, Limpopo, when a bus transporting miners to De Beers’ Venetia diamond mine collided with a truck on the R572. The victims included 18 miners who worked for Murray & Roberts and the drivers of the two vehicles.

The horrific accident occurred late on Sunday as the workers were being transported to the mine for the night shift. It’s alleged that the truck, which was transporting steel, veered off from its lane into oncoming traffic. After colliding, the two vehicles caught fire.

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Officials at the scene of the accident on 18 September 2022 (Photos: Limpopo Department of Transport and Community Safety)

Limpopo Transport and Community Safety MEC Florence Radzilani visited the crash scene on Monday. A task team including members of the Musina Municipality, Venetia mine, Murray & Roberts, police and traffic departments has been formed.

“It’s painful to lose people like this. I’m appealing to the nation to give space to law enforcement officers to do their job. We are working together with the management of Venetia mine. I believe the families of the deceased will be contacted in due course,” Radzilani said.

The names of the deceased have not yet been released. Four passengers who were injured were still in hospital on Monday. Venetia is situated about 15km from the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site. 

Venetia mine manager Ntokozo Ngema said: “Immediately after the accident we immediately stopped all the operations at the mine. We are providing trauma counselling for the employees. We are providing counselling to the families. As well, we are working very closely with the Department of Transport.”

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The accident scene on the R572 near Musina in Limpopo. (Photos: Limpopo Department of Transport and Community Safety)

It’s unclear when the mine will resume operations.

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga urged road users to remain alert, adding that the loss of even one life was one too many.

“We don’t have enough words to express our shock and sadness at this horrific incident. The loss of so many lives and injuries among the working class leaves a permanent telling blow on the socioeconomic wellbeing of the country and families, and loved ones lose breadwinners and are torn apart when such tragedy strikes,” Chikunga said.

The Department of Transport said 22 people had died in the crash, while Musina Municipality spokesperson Wilson Dzebu and other authorities reported 20 deaths.

musina accident

Wreckage of a truck that collided with a bus transporting miners on R572 outside Musina in Limpopo. (Photo: Supplied)

musina accident

The aftermath of the accident in which a truck and a bus transporting miners on R572 outside Musina in Limpopo collided. (Photo: Supplied)

“The exact cause of the crash is still under investigation at this point with crash reconstruction and investigation teams and law enforcement officers from the Road Traffic Management Corporation, the South African Police Service and provincial investigation teams dispatched to the scene,” the department said.

The bus carrying the workers belonged to Hope Transport Services, whose manager Pfuluwani Tshilande said the company was working with law enforcement officers to ensure road safety measures were followed.

A message of condolence from Murray & Roberts. Eighteen miners who died were contracted to Murray & Roberts. (Image: Supplied)

“We would like to see all road users following all traffic rules on the road.”

Hope Transport Services is contracted to the De Beers mine to transport miners between the mine and an accommodation facility in Musina. Other miners are transported from the nearby town of Allday.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it was “terribly devastated” by the tragedy.

“We are very shattered and devastated about this incident. We are saying enough is enough about the loss of lives on the public roads. Government should do something to upgrade their roads because this is the second incident in a short space of six months. We are losing workers due to road accidents,” said NUM northeast regional secretary Phillip Mankge.

Earlier this year, more than 20 passengers died in Limpopo when a bus they were travelling in collided with a truck before overturning on the N1 near the Hendrik Verwoerd Tunnel. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Mervyn Bennun says:

    Even on bad roads, vehicles can pass each other safely if properly driven. Perhaps the statement will cause surprise, but we do not really know why many road traffic “accidents” happen. Saying that they are due to driver error explains nothing. South Africa needs a comprehensive enquiry, in the form of a commission, to take evidence and to make recommendations based on a deeper understanding of road safety. The research model is aviation, which has become the safest form of transport because it was realised how little was understood about why so many aircraft in perfect condition and piloted by experienced crews were crashing. Braaivleis and dinner table expertise is not good enough; we know WHAT happened, but we have insufficient understanding of WHY, and especially of what human factors are involved which causes drivers to behave as they do. Adapting what the astronaut Frank Borman said, “Superior drivers use their superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of their superior skills”. What stops drivers from using good judgment? We simply do not know enough. Rigorous and planned research is needed.

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