Pupils injured in collision

GRIM SIGHT: Rescue workers examine the wreckage yesterday morning near the Old Cape Road and St Albans Road intersection Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
GRIM SIGHT: Rescue workers examine the wreckage yesterday morning near the Old Cape Road and St Albans Road intersection
Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

Angry St Albans residents slate state of roads after another accident

Ten schoolchildren, covered in blood and crying, were taken to hospital after the minibus in which they were travelling collided with a bakkie at the St Albans and Old Cape Road intersection shortly before 8am yesterday.

The minibus rolled into the nearby bushes on impact.

The pupils, aged between eight and 14, were on their way to St Albans Primary School.

Shortly after 8am, the school had sent all pupils home as teachers rushed to Livingstone Hospital to check on the children.

Metro EMS operations manager Ashwell Botha said the driver of the bakkie sustained serious injuries, while seven children had moderate to serious injuries and three were slightly injured.

The accident has St Albans residents up in arms.

They said the poor state of the road and the lack of road signs had been an accident waiting to happen – and now it had.

According to witnesses, the minibus was heading towards St Albans Prison on Old Cape Road when the bakkie turned into the road from St Albans Road.

The reporter noted poor road marking, massive potholes and no stop signs where the accident took place.

Police spokesman Captain Johan Rheeder said details on how it happened were still unknown. Bianca van Rooyen, from Cradock, was driving the bakkie to work, with her boyfriend, Lloyd Thompson, minutes behind her.

Thompson’s father, Lionel Kretzmann, who was on the scene, said: “I really don’t know what happened. I got a message from my son to come quickly. “The minibus was in the bushes and the bakkie on its side. She [Van Rooyen] was taken to hospital and my son went with her.”

Kretzmann highlighted that the road surface lacked markings and there was no stop or warning sign leading up to the intersection.

“These roads are really in a bad condition and there are often accidents in this area,” he said School governing body chairman Cyril Fortuin, who arrived at the accident only minutes after it happened, said the children managed to escape from the wrecked minibus after it rolled.

“I was driving when I saw the minibus lying in the bushes and the children climbing out covered in blood and crying. It was raining hard at the time. I got such a fright.”

“Luckily no one was killed but the entire school is in shock. “Due to everyone being traumatised, we decided to send all the scholars home.”

Fortuin said he started crying from shock after recalling a similar accident in March 2008 in which 14 pupils were injured at the nearby intersection of Draaifontein and St Albans roads.

“It is truly an experience I never want to relive.”

Then, a bakkie transporting pupils veered off the road and smashed into a group of about six children waiting at the intersection.

A bystander and farmer in the area, who declined to be named, said: “People speed on these roads as they are farm roads. There are some with major potholes and not a stop or warning sign in sight.”

“I have sent several complaints to the municipality. They came out once and put one stop sign up.”

Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki did not respond to questions put to him.

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