Deadly collision of bus carrying mine company staff kills 20 in South Africa

Web Desk
A general view of the scene of a multi-vehicle crash on the M41 freeway in Umhlanga, Durban, South Africa, March 6, 2023. — Reuters
 A general view of the scene of a multi-vehicle crash on the M41 freeway in Umhlanga, Durban, South Africa, March 6, 2023. — Reuters

  • The bus was carrying mining company De Beers workers.
  • Accident happened some 25 kilometres from the mine.
  • South Africa has one of most developed road networks.

As many as 20 mine staff workers of De Beers company were killed Sunday after a road accident near a border area of Zimbabwe, according to the officials in South Africa, as authorities are determining what led to the fatal crash.

The transport vehicle was carrying employees of the mining company from one of the biggest mines of the country — Venetia Mine —, according to a transport official in Limpopo province.

"The bus came into collision with a lorry," said Vongani Chauke.

Chauke told AFP the accident happened at around 1600 GMT, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the mine, at the village of Musian on the border with Zimbabwe.

South Africa has one of the most developed road networks on the continent but also has one of the worst road safety records.

The Venetia mine, which lies near the borders with Botswana and Zimbabwe, has been run by the De Beers group for more than 30 years.

It accounts for more than 40% of the country's annual diamond production, employing more than 4,300 staff including many local people.

It was once the country's largest open-cast mine before De Beers invested $2 billion in a major underground project to access the less easily available diamonds. The group aims to produce four million carats a year.

In July, De Beers announced the start of underground diamond production from the new seams opened underneath the open-cast mine.

The fatal crash comes months after a head-on collision between a bus and a cash-in-transit van left 20 dead leaving 68 others injured in February.

After the crash the bus rolled from a bridge on the N1 freeway into a river below, said ER24, whose paramedics were on the scene.

"Three people were found deceased by the roadside and 16 down by the river — all were declared dead on arrival," ER24 said in a statement. 

"One patient, of the 69 passengers confirmed transported to hospital for various injuries, has since died," it said.

The Limpopo transport department said the crash happened around 5pm and that the bus was carrying passengers from the town of Makhado to areas in the province's Vhembe district.

Police divers have been dispatched to verify that no one was swept away by the river, the department said in a statement.

ER24 said police were investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash and that heavy rains had fallen in the area where it happened.