South Africa's President Zuma calls for an end to road carnage

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Eyewitnesses at the scene of a horrific bus and truck collision in South Africa that killed 29 people described the screams of trapped bus passengers as they waited for help, local news media reported.

Thirty others were injured in the crash, including eight who were in critical condition at a hospital. The accident occurred in bad weather and involved two trucks, a bus and an SUV, according to government authorities.

In response to the collision late Monday, South African President Jacob Zuma called for an end to his country's appalling rate of road fatalities, describing the losses of lives as unacceptable. The government set up an inquiry into the accident, which occurred nearly 40 miles northeast of Pretoria in the province of Mpumalanga.

South Africa's road fatalities often involve trucks or commuter minibuses, partly because of official corruption that enables unroadworthy vehicles with poor tires to operate on the roads. Speed and alcohol also play a part in the nation's high road toll.

The Mpumalanga accident occurred as a vehicle was stopped in the road and a truck swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid it, colliding with the bus, according to local news reports.

The accident comes just two months after a truck driver plowed through an intersection in Pinetown, west of Durban, smashing into commuter taxis and killing 26.

On Tuesday, a truck driver was convicted of culpable homicide after an accident in July 2012 that killed 24.

George Mandlazi, 33, was driving an open truck with dozens of farmworkers in the back when he drove across a rail crossing, in the path on an oncoming train.

"This carnage must stop. It is completely unacceptable," President Zuma said in a statement issued by his office, calling on witnesses to come forward to assist the government's inquiry. "We also urge the law enforcement authorities to swiftly get to the bottom of the causes of this tragedy, and the law must be firm on those found to have flouted any rules and regulations of the road, leading to such high fatalities."


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