Qoo consoles families of Kao bus accident victims

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Bereng Mpaki | ‘Marafaele Mohloboli

MINING minister Serialong Qoo has sent condolence messages to families of seven Kao Mine employees who were killed in a bus crash in Butha-Buthe on Monday.

Tragedy struck when the driver of the staff bus with 21 passengers aboard, lost control of the vehicle at the Tlaeeng Pass in Butha-Buthe and it overturned killing the seven on the spot.

The other 14 passengers and the driver sustained serious injuries and were hospitalised, the police said. The driver was however, discharged from Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) yesterday.

The bus was on its way from the mine to Maseru when the accident happened.

Mr Qoo yesterday sent condolence messages to the bereaved families.

“I take this opportunity to convey my condolences on behalf of the government to the bereaved families, the Kao Mine and the public at large.

“I also wish a speedy recovery to the employees who are currently getting medical attention in hospital. I thank all those who responded to the distress call and lend their hand at the accident scene,” Mr Qoo said.

According to the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), indications are that the accident could have been caused by bad weather.

“A bus overturned when its driver lost control while traveling through a bad hailstorm around Tlaeeng Pass,” police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said.

Snr Supt Mopeli said the police were now investigating the driver for culpable homicide and malicious damage to property.

On Monday the mine said it was working to contact the families of the deceased.

“The company’s emergency procedures were immediately activated (after the accident) and our industrial safety and occupational health personnel went to the scene to carry out rescue work.

“The mine management is working tirelessly to get in touch with their families and loved ones, while continuing to ensure the safety of those that have been affected,” the mine said.

Kao Mine chief executive officer Mohale Ralikariki could not be reached for comment yesterday as his phone rang unanswered.

The owner of the hired staff bus, Peter Molefi said he suspects that the accident was caused by the slippery road surface due to bad weather.

“So far we have lost eight people but there is a possibility of the numbers increasing. From what I have been told, it had lightly snowed and the road was slippery and the driver lost control of the bus until it over turned,” Mr Molefi said.

He said other passengers were still admitted at QMMH.

Located in the Butha-Buthe highlands, Kao Mine is operated by Storm Mountain Diamonds. South African company Namakwa Diamonds owns 75 percent of SMD while the remaining 25 percent is controlled by the government. The mine started operating in 2010.

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