Struggling father considers himself lucky despite horror accident

2011-10-10 12:37

Fifty-five-year-old Solly Mdluli considers himself lucky despite having to frantically shuttle between three hospitals.

Three of his family members, wife Princess Ndamane; son Ayabulela Ndamane (10) and younger daughter, Onelisiwe Ndamane (7) were in a horrific Harrismith bus accident that claimed nine lives last Monday.

The last few days have not been easy for Mdluli but he still considers himself fortunate.

“I am lucky, considering that other families were not as fortunate and they lost their loved ones,” he said.

Mdluli works in Mafikeng and remembers dropping his wife and two children at Phumula primary school last Sunday evening before heading off to North West.

His children are not learners at Phumula but accompanied their mother, a teacher at the school, since it was school holidays.

“On my way past Ventersdorp, early on Monday, I received a call that the bus they were travelling in was in an accident,” he said.

“I immediately turned back and asked my nephew to accompany me to Harrismith.”

Mdluli said on arrival at Harrismith, the road leading to the accident scene had been cordoned off and on seeing the mangled bus wreck, he started fearing for the lives of his family.

“I was told that my wife was one of the injured people and she was transferred to Bethlehem where she had to undergo an emergency operation, but at that moment (I was told) nothing about the children,” Mdluli says.

“I was getting more worried despite knowing her whereabouts because my focus had now shifted to finding out what had happened to my young children.”

Mdluli rushed to Bethlehem hospital where he managed for the first time to see his wife.

“I found her heavily sedated and the doctor told me that her leg was badly injured and they had to amputate it.

“The news almost overwhelmed me but I became upbeat when I found my youngest daughter, Onelisiwe, at the same hospital with her mom, alive,” Mdluli says.

“I started panicking when I could not find my son Ayabulela – thinking of the possibility that he might be among those who did not make it.

“It was only when I drove to Manapo hospital in Phuthaditjhaba that I found my boy,” he says.

Mdluli explains the difficulty he faced having to navigate through Free State roads to locate his family.

His family and others from the accident were stabilised in Free State before being transferred to Gauteng hospitals.

Onelisiwe only had facial bruises and has since been discharged while Ayabulela – with hand and leg injuries – and his mother are still in hospital.

Mdluli’s wife underwent another operation to fix her cracked pelvic bone.

“She is still in the intensive care unit at Union Hospital in Alberton, where doctors have assured me the operation went well.”

Forty-two learners and nine adults from Phumula, south of Ekurhuleni, were en route to an educational tour to Durban when a truck reportedly hit the bus they were travelling in.

Five funerals took place on Saturday while the rest will be held on October 15.

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