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Rheenendal inquiry: Bus was in a poor condition

A mechanical expert says the bus carrying 14 children and their driver was in a poor condition.

Police divers at the scene of an accident where 15 people died and 44 were injured when a school bus plunged off a bridge and into a dam in Knysna on 24 August 2011. Picture: SAPA

CAPE TOWN - A mechanical expert who investigated the Rheenendal school bus crash has found the vehicle was in a poor condition.

An inquest into the tragedy, which claimed the lives of 14 children and a bus driver, is being heard in the Knysna Magistrates Court.

The vehicle veered off the road and ploughed into a river outside the Southern Cape town in 2011.

The mechanical expert told the court the state of the bus played a major role in the crash.

He found defects with the brake system and steering mechanism, which were never repaired.

The problems were identified by the TJ Motor Vehicle Testing Station, four months before the fatal crash but despite this, a roadworthy certificate was issued.

The same defects were noted on the vehicle 48 hours after the crash.

The mechanical expert testified that driver negligence was also a factor because he could not have attempted to go up a hill a second time after the bus had stalled with his passengers on board.

The investigation also revealed the bus had no known service record.

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