A driver at Kweneng District Council has told a Molepolole Magistrates Court that before the infamous 2015 tragedy they used to transport students in two or three trucks.
When testifying at the commencement of the Matsha tragedy trial, 52-year-old Casino Batlhophi, who had worked as a driver since 1997 testified that on November 12th, 2015, he met the accused driver, Dogi Thoomadi, and he informed him that he was instructed by the Social Welfare officer to collect the students.
“I asked him who he was going with and he told me he was going alone. I also asked him why they did not assign two of us so I could transport the students’ luggage. He then suggested the idea to the Social Welfare office but a lady called Tebogo Ntheetsang told us that only one truck should be used.”
Batlhophi said if he had his way he would have had two trucks transporting the students as they had a lot of luggage.
“If I was the one to transport the children I would carry only 42 of them including their luggage,” Batlhophi said and added: “if there were more than 100 students they were too many as the truck carries only a maximum of 7 tonne load.”
One of the accident survivors, Mompati Monameng (27) testified that when they got inside the truck there was limited space which forced some of them to sit on top of the bags.
The truck is said to have dropped off those who stayed in Tshwaane first and later on the way when they were about to approach Dutlwe a tyre burst.
“I was in darkness and my back was in pain and I did not know what was happening. Later I noticed that the truck had overturned. I sustained injuries on the right shoulder and the arm,” Monameng explained.
He, however, said most of them were seated while others were asleep and due to the severe pains and headache he did not concentrate much on what was happening.
The accused 43-year-old Thoomadi, a driver at Letlhakeng Sub District Council, is facing nine counts of causing death by reckless driving.
The fatal incident occurred when the students were returning home after their Form 5 examinations at Matsha College in Kang.
Five students died on the spot while majority were admitted at the hospital with severe injuries as later on four also passed on.
According to the summary of the case, the truck was overloaded with 126 passengers with their luggage each, instead of its carrying capacity of 56 passengers.