Sibusiso Siyaya (28), the driver of the truck that killed 18 schoolchildren and two adults, was taken into custody by the Pongola Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
The children were returning from school when the bakkie they were traveling in was hit last week by the truck it was driving on the N2 between Pongola and Tshelimnyama in the north of the province.
He faces 20 counts of culpable homicide.
READ ALSO | Pongola accident: Toll revised to 20 dead, preliminary indications point to human error
It took emergency services personnel hours to extract the bodies of the bakkie, trapped under the truck. The final report on the crash from EMS spokesman Robert McKenzie arrived around 8pm on the day of the incident.
Siyaya reportedly fled the scene, but then surrendered to police.
NPA spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said the case was adjourned to September 26, 2022 for a bail application.
Residents of Pongola have criticized the government for not deploying law enforcement officers to this section of the N2.
Adrian Chaning-Pearce said that due to the increased demand for coal and the destruction of the rail system, they have seen an increase in the number of trucks on the N2 section between Ermelo and Richards Bay.
We have seen an exponential increase in the number of trucks, especially dump trucks on this route. A lot of these guys [drivers] drive illegally and they often disobey the rules of the road and there is no law enforcement on this road. This is what causes all the problems.
Another resident, Jabu Hansen, also criticized the government for not enforcing the N2 law.
The death toll from the accident has been confirmed at 20 by police after forensic experts discovered that one body had been counted twice, according to the EMS rescue services.
READ ALSO | Truck Driver In Horrific Pongola Crash Arrested After Fleeing Crash Scene
Acting KZN Prime Minister Nomagugu Simelane along with MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Sipho Hlomuka and Acting MEC for Education Bongi Sithole-Moloi spent the whole day on Monday meeting with students and the families of the victims of the accident, which claimed the lives of 18 pupils, a teacher and the driver of bakkie in Phongolo on Friday.
A visit was undertaken to the scene of the accident with a team of experts. Early indications point to human error and failure to follow traffic laws as the cause of the crash.
KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube called on the courts to deliver justice to the victims of the horrific crash.
Speaking during an interview with New York Climate Week, where she leads the provincial delegation, Dube-Ncube said:
This is one of the most tragic accidents in our province in recent times. What is painfully sad is to learn that this accident cost the lives of so many of our young people whose future and that of their families is now destroyed. Unfortunately, it is becoming clearer by the day that more and more, human factors are playing a major role in road deaths in our province, which is a major cause for concern.
“We commend SAPS and the community for working together to facilitate the arrest of the truck driver after he fled the scene. We therefore call on the Ministry of Justice to act quickly to ensure justice is served in the interest of the victims and their families,” added Dube-Ncube.