IN PICTURES | 1 child dead, 21 hurt as overloaded taxi crashes in front of parliament
A taxi transporting children almost crashed into the front of parliament on Friday morning, killing one pupil and leaving 23 people injured.
A sturdy metal bollard prevented the rickety minibus from ramming parliament’s gates and it missed the statue of early 20th century prime minister Louis Botha by a few metres.
Ebrahim White, a teacher at the Walmer Estate Primary School, was on the scene as children were treated and then taken to Cape Town hospitals.
He said he had heard disturbing information that the driver of the taxi allegedly jumped a red robot and was overloaded. White said most of the passengers were primary school pupils.
“This morning we received a call from another principal saying that our learners were involved in a serious accident in town in Plein Street,” he said.
“Upon receiving the phone call, myself and the school principal decided to come here and see who of our learners were involved in the accident and how serious it is. We needed to contact the parents and make them aware of what happened.
“We first [checked] the condition of the learners so that we could inform the parents. Two learners sustained hand injuries and one sustained a broken leg.
“I can’t say what caused the accident but from what the paramedics and learners are saying, the driver jumped a red robot and the taxi was overcrowded.”
He said the pupils were from townships including Khayelitsha and went to a variety of schools in the city centre area.
“We are being briefed about the procedures we need to follow and whether we have to collect the learners. Some were taken to District Six hospital, some were taken to Groote Schuur, some were taken to Somerset Hospital.
“So we just need to know whether we go there and collect the learners, do we contact the parents? Once we get that information, we will proceed.”
White said he could not believe his eyes when he saw the state of the taxi. “I am very shocked by the state of the taxi. People working around the area said they heard the screeching of the brakes at about 7.40am. I can’t see what caused a vehicle to lose control on a straight road and drive into a barricade.”
Belinda Maunze, a parent of one of the injured pupils, gazed at the wreck in disbelief. “My child is nine years old,” she said.
“I was so shocked, it is so, so painful. We live in Gugulethu. I saw my child, she has an injury on her leg but it’s not too bad. It is better than the others.”
City of Cape Town traffic services spokesperson Richard Coleman said 11 children were seriously injured and 11 had slight injuries.
The driver of the taxi was seriously injured, he said, and another adult in the vehicle had also been hurt.
The presiding officers of parliament, led by new national assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the chairperson of the national council of provinces, Amos Masondo, sent condolences to the family and friends of the pupil who died.
“Our thoughts and prayers are also with the injured pupils for their speedy recovery. We call upon the traffic authorities to investigate the circumstances of the accident and leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety of our children,” they said in a statement
This article has been updated to reflect the death of one pupil and the parliamentary statement.