What caused horror crash?

2015-01-30 00:00

POLICE suspect that as many as 30 ­children may have been on the bakkie ­involved in Wednesday’s horror crash which claimed the lives of seven ­Fezokuhle Primary School pupils.

A police source who could not be named said 30 school bags were retrieved from the accident scene, leading them to suspect that up to 30 children were on the bakkie when it crashed.

Transport MEC Willies Mchunu said yesterday that he suspected the cause of the horror crash to be brake failure, but it was still being investigated.

“All indications seem to point to the driver losing control of the vehicle.

“We are yet to establish whether the accident was caused by the condition of the driver or a mechanical issue,” he said.

However, a police officer who could not be named said he suspected the vehicle had been going too fast down the steep hill and was unable to take the sharp corner when it crashed.

“See those marks, those are yaw marks,” he said.

The source said yaw marks occur when a vehicle is moving too quickly and ­attempts to brake, which causes the back end of the car to slide sideways.

“She tried to take the corner but the back of the bakkie slid,” he said.

Road Traffic Inspectorate ­spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu said there seemed to be nothing outwardly wrong with the vehicle.

“When the bakkie was inspected, it looked roadworthy, and we also checked whether the driver had a driver’s licence and she did,” said Mngomezulu.

Meanwhile, a sombre mood hung over the Pietermaritzburg City Hall yesterday when the grieving families of the seven pupils who died on Wednesday were hosted by officials.

The dead pupils were identified as ­Yolanda Shezi (10) and Bandile Chamu (10) who were in Grade 5, Olwethu ­Vilakazi (nine), Sinakhokonke Mchunu (eight) and Sinenhlanhla Nkomo (nine) all in Grade 4, and Sinenhlanhla Dlamini (seven) and Sinethemba Chonco (seven) from Grade 2.

Tears streamed down their relatives’ faces as government officials offered their condolences.

Later, the visibly devastated parents paid tribute to their children, saying how they would remember them.

Yolanda’s tearful mother Thabisile Shezi said her life is meaningless without her daughter.

“I still can’t believe she is gone. She was the only child God blessed me with. She was everything to me,” said Shezi, fighting back tears.

“She had respect and was helpful at home. I don’t know how I will cope ­without her. She aspired to be a teacher. Her death has left a void in my heart. I loved her and will always love her. Rest in peace my child.”

Sinethemba’s father, Simphiwe ­Chonco, said his daughter was a dedicated pupil and loved to sing.

“She really loved to sing and she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up,” said the teary-eyed Chonco. “She was very clever and was a good child.”

Bandile, whose mother died years ago, was described as a vibrant and good-hearted boy by his father Thobani Chamu, who added that his death had shocked the family to the core. “He wanted to be a policeman like his grandfather. He was an active child and very ­intelligent. He liked to laugh and had a good heart. We are devastated … It is very hard to accept his death,” Chamu said.

Sinenhlanhla’s grandmother Margaret Dlamini said: “Sinenhlanhla was a very playful, kind girl who loved her school work. She will be dearly missed by her family.”

The families then had a meeting but could not reach an agreement on when the funerals should be held, with some wanting to bury their children this weekend and others proposing next week. Some families wanted to bury their loved ones separately and not at a joint service. Today they are expected hold another meeting to discuss the way forward.

Meanwhile, the bloodied bags of the dead and injured pupils lay in a corridor at the school, with parents trying to identify their child’s bags to take them home.

Yesterday, another bloodied schoolbag was found at the scene of the accident, belonging to a Grade R child.

Brenda Majozi told of her shock at finding her Grade 1 son Tapelo Masango screaming under the bakkie’s wreckage.

“The bodies were scattered all over the place. My body froze. I kneeled and prayed to God and I saw and heard Tapelo screaming, ‘Mama, I want mama’, and I pulled him out.

“In hospital, I kept on checking if he was still alive because he was badly injured in the head and shoulder,” she said.

• khanyisani.dlomo@witness.co.za

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