According to the Department of Transport, there has been a fatal accident in Msunduzi near Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal.

The accident left 18 people dead. A taxi that plunged down an embankment spitting out its passengers.

The Depart said the taxi was heavily overloaded. 26 people were crammed into 16-seater Pietermaritzburg taxi.

This deadly accident took place on Sunday morning.

“There were 26 people in the 16-seater minibus and the preliminary mechanical investigation revealed that the minibus had no brakes. [The] vehicle has been impounded for further investigation‚” Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi said in a statement.

“It is alleged that the driver lost control of the vehicle and it crashed into a barrier on the bridge and rolled down an embankment and landed next to the Msunduzi Dam‚” Maswanganyi said.

Residents rushed to the scene where they aided around a dozen people‚ taking them to a hospital 100 metres from the accident scene.

Paramedics arrived on the crash scene to find several people scattered around the taxi‚ which was lying on its roof.

“Paramedics assessed the patients and found that all fifteen had already succumbed to their multiple injuries. Nothing more could be done for them and they were declared dead on the scene‚” ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said.

It was understood that the driver of the vehicle was one of eight who survived the crash.

Maswanganyi has directed the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) to expedite an investigation into the crash.

“The RTMC is further directed to ensure that all taxi operators are held liable for the behaviour of their drivers and for the condition of their vehicles. Where the investigations find that the vehicle is unroadworthy‚ the operator must be charged as an accomplice‚” he said.