Speeding Putco bus wipes out couple and their home

Published Mar 28, 2012



Robert Kalane desperately tried to dig through the rubble of his brother-in-law’s house with his bare hands. On top of the rubble was a large Putco bus, and beneath it, still in their pyjamas and blankets, were the bodies of his brother-in-law and his wife.

Kalane believed he could save them. But the police, arriving on the scene later, pulled him off. They knew the residents of 2782 Bramfischerville Phase 2 had been awoken by a terrible crash, only to die in their beds shortly after.

The tragic accident, which saw dozens of bus passengers taken to hospital and the deaths of Michael, 44, and Mathabiso Motswiri, 33, happened just after 5am yesterday. Residents were woken by two loud bangs. The first was a Putco bus on its morning route colliding with a car as it went through a four-way stop. The second was the bus hitting and demolishing the house.

Gauteng Traffic Department spokesman Obed Sibasa said the bus was going at such great speed that the skid marks extended for 50 metres from the stop street to the house.

All that remained of the low-cost home was the bathroom and a little piece of the front wall. “If only they had been in the toilet when the accident happened,” said Kalane sadly.

Before the bodies could be removed, the bus needed to be dragged away from the house. As a tow truck began to drag the bus out, loud crying, almost like the howling of a wounded animal, echoed in the air. It was Mathabiso’s mother, dressed in her Engen garage attendant’s uniform, and beside her Michael’s mother, who lives in Dobsonville with his two children.

Michael’s sister, Manini Motswiri, brought a battered picture of the man from the rubble after viewing his equally battered body. “I used to come and cry on Mike’s shoulder and he usually had the right advice for me,” she said.

Police spokesman Captain Mpande Khoza said a case of culpable homicide and negligent and reckless driving would be opened, but added they would have to do more investigations before determining which driver had skipped the stop street.

But emergency services spokesman Synock Matobako said that from their observations, the bus was clearly driving at a very high speed.

Putco marketing manager Raphiri Matsaneng said the driver of the bus had been with the company for 15 years and had a good record.

Community leader Thabang Matsheng said he had ridden this Putco route with the same driver before, and had found the bus frequently travelled beyond the speed limit.

Matsheng said local residents would invite the Johannesburg Roads Agency to join them for a public meeting on road safety this week.

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