SIX people were killed and another 4 critically injured after the minibus taxi they were travelling in collided with a concrete barrier on the Albany Road off ramp on the M4 freeway in Port Elizabeth yesterday afternoon. (24 May 2012)
At the time of the crash, three people were declared dead on the scene and the seven survivors rushed to Livingstone Hospital in a critical condition.
One witness, who declined to be named, said that moments before the accident the minibus overtook him at great speed.
"I was travelling about 130 km/hour when the minibus overtook me. I put on the breaks as I saw the driver turn into the off ramp lane at a very high speed. The next thing I just saw people flying,” he said. "Bodies just flew out the vehicle and the actual taxi flew through the air and landed up on the actual M4. The driver was going at least about 150 km/hour. I stopped to help and tried to flag down approaching traffic so that they did not ride over anyone. There were bodies all over the road.”
The accident resulted in emergency services blocking the M4 for about 3 hours while they cleared the scene.
Police spokesman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said the driver hit the pavement and then collided with a concrete barrier on the Albany off ramp resulting in the minibus landing back on M4.
"Emergency workers declared three people dead on the scene and another 3 people died overnight in hospital,” she said. "One person is still in a critical condition while the other three are in a critical but more stable condition.”
"We are attempting to track the victims family members but it is taking time. At this stage none of the occupants inside the taxi have been identified so we are unable to release their names.”
Janse van Rensburg said that due to the chaos on the scene, no one was able to point our who was driving the minibus.
"We believe that the driver is one of the deceased but we are still awaiting confirmation. The owner of the vehicle claims he was not sure who was driving at the time so that will form part of the investigation,” she said.
At 8am this morning ( 25 May) police blocked the M4 to gather more details to assist with the reconstruction of the accident scene.
Janse van Rensburg said that allegations of speeding were being investigated. "This will all come out after the Accident Response Unit has done their investigation and reconstructed the scene,” she said.
The minibus was taken to the police pound where it will be examined by vehicle experts.
Six cases of culpable homicide are currently under investgation.