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Rheenendal crash: Education dept, bus owner didn't do enough

Judgment was handed down today following an inquest into the 2011 accident.

FILE: Police divers at the scene of an accident where fifteen 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 - The Knysna Magistrates Court has found the Western Cape Education Department, the bus owner and vehicle testing station should be held responsible for the 2011 Rheenendal bus tragedy.

Judgment was handed down today following an inquest into the accident which claimed the lives of 14 pupils and the driver in August 2011.

Fifty nine passengers were on the bus when it veered off the road and plunged into a river near Knysna.

Norman Arendse, the lawyer representing the parents of the pupils killed in the crash, says the magistrate found that the education department and the bus owner didn't do enough to ensure the safety of the learners

"The education department had contracted that the school use a 67 seater but it was changed to a 34 seater and of course, on the day of the accident, the bus was overloaded."

The magistrate also found that the vehicle testing station should be held accountable because it failed to conduct proper checks on the vehicle.

The vehicle was in a poor state of maintenance at the time of the crash.

The matter will now be handed over to the Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions.

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