Cape Town – Eight years after a horrific accident which claimed the lives of 10 schoolchildren, seven men died at the infamous Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath on Friday.
Six Zimbabweans, including two brothers, were killed when their bakkie was hit by a train when the driver ignored warning signals at 5.40am. The driver also died.
When Independent Media visited the scene, the father of 29-year-old Manasa Goteka could not believe his son was gone. His son-in-law, Carson Jasi, 23, was also in the bakkie which had picked them up only 40 minutes before the accident.
Melvin Goteka, 23, was first to arrive at the gruesome scene where he immediately identified his brother lying a few feet away from the tracks.
“I stopped the car and I just saw him lying there, I saw his blue T-shirt and blue overall pants but I did not expect it to be that serious. I thought they were just injured.
“What was the driver thinking, how do you get hit by a train like that?” questioned the soft-spoken man as tears rolled down his face.
A distraught 59-year-old Clement Goteka could barely speak as he stood just metres away from his son’s body. “I cannot take this, I want to go home to my wife.”
When Goteka got to his car, he threw himself on the seat, crying inconsolably. Moments later, six relatives headed home as Goteka said he could no longer be at the place where his eldest son had died.
At the Goteka and Jasi family home in Kalkfontein, Kuils River, Manasa’s wife, Elizabeth Jadi, was crying hysterically in mother-in-law Happy’s arms.
The young woman and mother of two could not speak to the media.
Happy, 50, said she had last seen her son, Manasa, the night before.
“He had sent me a text asking for money to fix his bungalow at the back because rain was seeping in. I gave him R600. He said he would pay it back on Monday when he gets paid. He spent the whole day here at home yesterday (Thursday) fixing it, then in the evening he just came inside to take a bath and went straight to bed.
“I heard the transport when it came to fetch them, I heard them when they left. I cannot believe that I will never see my sons again.”
Heartbroken Happy described both her son and son-in-law as “disciplined and hard-working young men”. “People always tell me I am blessed to have them.”
Tinashe Mdakatura, 30, another of the men who died, lived alone, but his cousin, who did not wish to be named, said the family could not believe that he was gone.
“Most of the family is in Zimbabwe; they are shocked and refuse to accept it. Tinashe was a great person and I will miss him a lot,” added the relative.
According to police spokesperson Andre Traut, circumstances surrounding the accident are still being investigated.
Meanwhile, Metrorail spokesperson Zinobulali Mihi said the accident was still under investigation but was due to human error.
She said regular maintenance checks were done along all train lines and a routine check had been done in Blackheath a week ago.
“The robots had already turned amber when the driver of the taxi in front of the bakkie had crossed over.
“The driver of the bakkie thought he would be faster than the train and ignored the hooting as well as the robot signals.
“All warning signals at the level crossing are in good working condition, including the boom gates,” she said.
This is the same level crossing where Jacob Humphreys ignored signal signs, killing 10 children when his vehicle collided with a train in 2010.
In 2011, Humphreys was found guilty on 10 charges of murder and four of attempted murder.
It is believed he had overtaken a number of cars at the Buttskop level crossing to get to the front of the queue.
Humphreys received a 20-year prison sentence which was later reduced to eight by the Supreme Court in 2012.