Welkom crash driver was professional and bus roadworthy, says Intercape

20 May 2019 - 15:34 By Nonkululeko Njilo
Nine people are dead after an Intercape bus overturned in Welkom on Monday morning.
Nine people are dead after an Intercape bus overturned in Welkom on Monday morning.
Image: Free State Department of Health

Intercape has expressed shock and sadness over a deadly bus crash in the Free State that saw one of its drivers allegedly commit suicide near the accident scene on Monday.

Nine people died and 45 were injured in the incident that occurred shortly before 5am near Welkom. The bus was travelling from Durban to Upington via Bloemfontein.

The company has set up a 24-hour crisis centre to field queries from relatives and loved ones about the crash.

"Intercape is shocked and saddened by the accident. The management will cooperate fully to investigate the cause of the accident," said the company's Pieter Louw.

Louw said the coach was in a roadworthy condition and had undergone tests two weeks prior to the crash.   

Questions and concerns were raised about the fitness of the driver, who the provincial department of health said committed suicide after the crash. "The driver was trained and appointed as a professional driver. He was familiar with the specific route," said Louw.

"The accident has been reported to the appropriate authorities and medical personnel are attending to injured passengers. The injured passengers have been transported to various nearby hospitals and clinics."

Provincial health department spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said earlier that nine people had died. "Seven people died on scene. The driver of the bus ran away and [allegedly] hanged himself. A child died later in hospital," he said.

It is the second Intercape accident in recent weeks. In late April, 70 people were injured when their bus crashed and rolled on to its side near Pietermaritzburg.