Free State – A 32-year-old Intercape driver committed suicide after eight passengers died and 46 others were injured when the bus he was driving overturned.
He got out of the bus, saw the mangled vehicle as well as dead bodies and injured people then went to a tree nearby and hung himself.
The accident happened around 3.30am on Monday at the corners Arrarat and Alma road in Welkom.
The bus was travelling from Durban to Upington when it allegedly lost control at a traffic circle.
It then overturned, leaving eight people dead and 46 others injured.
Intercape spokesperson Pieter Louw confirmed the incident and said the bus was roadworthy and that management would cooperate with investigations to determine the cause of the accident.
He added that the driver was well-trained, appointed as a professional driver and that he was familiar with that particular route.
“Intercape is shocked and saddened by the accident. The management will cooperate fully to investigate the cause of the accident,” Louw said.
“Our deepest and most sincere condolences to the families of the deceased passengers. Intercape regrets the accident,” he added.
According to the Free State Department of Health, seven people – four women and three children- died on the scene.
Another child later died in hospital. The driver, who was not injured, then hung himself not far from the scene after managing to get out of the bus.
The department added that three passengers were critically injured while 43 others sustained injuries ranging from minor to moderate.
Free State police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele confirmed that the bus driver was found hanging on a tree not that far from the accident scene.
According to Makhele, the Intercape bus was travelling from Durban to Upington through Bloemfontein.
“The names of the deceased will not be released at this stage as the next of kin are still to be informed,” Makhele said.
He added that culpable homicide and inquest cases were being investigated by the police.
Free State MEC for Health Montseng Tsiu also sent her condolences to the families of the victims.