Lifestyle & Belief

South Africa: 19 killed in minibus taxi crash


Rescuers stand at the scene of a fatal crash between a minibus taxi, carrying children to school, and a commuter train on August 25, 2010 on the outskirt of Cape Town. Road accident deaths are twice as high in South Africa as the global average.



JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — More than 900 people have died on South Africa's roads this holiday season, with 19 people killed in the latest horrific crash, a head-on collision between a minibus taxi and a car.

A car with four passengers tried to pass another car on a highway in the Free State, and hit an oncoming minibus taxi carrying 15 people, police said Tuesday. Both vehicles caught fire, and some of the victims were burned beyond recognition, the South African Press Association (SAPA) reported.

Road accident deaths are twice as high in South Africa as the global average, a result of drunk driving, speeding, aggressive driving and other factors.

South Africa's Road Traffic Management Corporation said reckless overtaking is a main reason for the 900 deaths on South African roads since December 1.

"Major contributory factors remain speeds too high for circumstances, especially at night and during inclement weather, drinking and driving, drinking and walking and dangerous overtaking on barrier lines in the face of coming traffic," spokesperson Ashref Ismail told SAPA.

More from GlobalPost: South Africa: Drunk driving a growing worry

Transport Minister S'bu Ndebele warned last year that South Africa faces an "epidemic" in road deaths. The country has about 14,000 road fatalities a year, and 60 percent of drivers killed in crashes were under the influence of alcohol. South Africa's population is about 49 million.

“We cannot continue treating road deaths as normal when we are facing death by design, death by human error, death through carelessness, death through drunkenness, all of which can be stopped,” said Ndebele, whose own son was killed in a car crash.

“In fact, by 2015, it is estimated that road crashes will be the number one killer of children aged five to 14 in Africa, outstripping Malaria and HIV and AIDS,” he said.

More from GlobalPost: Christmas, Inc: South Africa fuels Santa's workshop