Kombi accident survivor speaks
TSHANENI – Mboboteni Tsabedze survived the horrific accident that claimed the lives of 14 passengers near Tshaneni last week.
Tsabedze is the only surviving passenger in the kombi, which burst into flames after crashing into a concrete bus shelter during a high speed chase involving a police motorbike.
Below, Tsabedze in his own words narrates to the Swazi News what happened on the day.
Tsabedze recounted the incident Tuesday, when he was found basking in the sun with two colleagues from his workplace who had come to check on him at the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation’s (RSSC) compound, which is known as New Village, at Tshaneni.
Tsabedze, who is employed as a general labourer at RSSC, stated that he was heading home to visit his wife and four children on the fateful Friday.
"I was going home as it was my official off-day. I left the compound in the morning at about 8am. The bus terminus is approximately three kilometres from the village, when I reached the bus rank, I found some people already on board the kombi trading as Sitini Transport. I occupied the front seat. Then the kombi left the Tshaneni bus rank at about 9:30am after a few more passengers had boarded.
We came across a police road block that was mounted a few metres from the Tshaneni, Mandlangempisi and Mananga traffic circle.
The police officers manning the roadblock did not stop us, but the kombi stopped at the following bus shelter where it picked up more passengers. I do not recall the number of the people that got on at that bus station.
As the kombi pulled out of the bus shelter, one of the police officers who were a few metres away got onto the motorbike and headed towards our kombi.
I think the police officer noted that the vehicle had exceeded the mandatory number of passengers that should be on board.
Seeing that the police were drawing closer, the kombi driver sped away, which immediately caused panic among the passengers.
The police officer on the motorbike started chasing the kombi.
When the officer was level with the kombi he started signaling with the movement of his left arm that the kombi driver should park on the roadside. However, the driver accelerated. As the chase ensued the police officer on the motorbike overtook our kombi, which had gained speed.
At the time the policeman overtook the kombi, I assumed that the kombi was travelling at above 100 kilometers per hour. I had been concentrating on something on the floor when I eventually rea-lised that the kombi had veered off the road.
When I lifted my eyes – I saw that we were heading towards the bus shelter. And within a blink of an eye, the kombi crashed into the concrete bus shelter. I heard a loud bang, and I was in a confused state but I managed to crawl out of the vehicle, and I was followed a few seconds later by the driver. However, as he begun walking the driver fell to the ground, which I think could have been due to shock.
We then sat on the side of the road, each in a state of confusion trying to process what had happened and assistance came after approximately 20 minutes.
I could hear the screams of my fellow passengers calling out for help from inside the wrecked kombi. I am not sure whether there were people that were at the bus shelter, I only heard after the accident that there was a man and a woman".
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