Fifteen people, including a baby and toddler, died in a freak accident involving a taxi and heavy-duty truck on the N9 near Middelburg in the Eastern Cape on Sunday evening.
According to provincial Department of Transport spokesperson Unathi Binqose, the truck hit a stray animal on its way to the Eastern Cape and lost control. In the process, its trailer overturned and landed on top of a fully-loaded passing taxi heading in the opposite direction.
The 15 deceased were all passengers of the taxi. The driver of the truck escaped with minor injuries.
Among the deceased are nine women, four men, and two baby girls, a two-year-old and a two-month-old.
The accident occurred at approximately 23:00.
“The trailer crushed the taxi, killing everybody inside it,” Binqose said.
“It has since emerged that the victims had just returned from a funeral and were on their way back to Cape Town, so they were closely related, whether by blood or friendship, he added.”
A case of culpable homicide has been opened at the Middelburg police station for further investigation.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Nomthetheleli Mene conveyed her condolences to the families of the victims.
“SAPS management in the Eastern Cape is deeply sorry for the loss of so many lives. The loss of loved ones in such a sudden and tragic manner is truly devastating and our thoughts and prayers are with the families as they navigate through this unimaginable grief,” she said.