Nzimande visits notorious level crossing

03 May 2018 - 11:30 By Petru Saal
Bakkie hit by train at Buttskop railway crossing Blackheath.
Bakkie hit by train at Buttskop railway crossing Blackheath.
Image: Lima Charlie 1 via Twitter

Transport minister Blade Nzimande on Thursday inspected the site of a gruesome collision between a train and a bakkie in Cape Town.

Seven men travelling on the bakkie died at the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath on April 27. Metrorail initially attributed the crash to "human error".

Community members told the minister that authorities had promised to build a bridge after an earlier tragedy in 2010‚ but that this had not materialised.

On the day the bakkie was struck by the train‚ it had been following a taxi on Frederick Road‚ parallel to the railway track. As the train approached the crossing‚ the taxi drove across and the bakkie tried to do the same but did not cross the tracks in time.

Community members gathered at the scene to ask Nzimande questions. Bishop Willem Martin said‚ “This crossing has been here for 35 years. We were promised a bridge. Nothing has happened. After the 2010 incident another accident claimed the lives of five children.”

Ten children on their way to school in a taxi lost their lives at the same level crossing in 2010 when the vehicle was hit by an approaching train. Taxi driver Jacob Humphreys was convicted of murder and handed an effective 20-year jail sentence by the Western Cape High Court after the crash.

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker told Nzimande that there were safety measures in place to warn when a train was approaching the crossing. He said safety systems were checked after the bakkie accident and found to be in working order.

Before the minister arrived‚ a body was discovered near the railway line and the area was cordoned off by police. Relatives said the man had not been struck by a train.