IDing of Cradock bus victims starts

2012-07-23 13:24

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Johannesburg - The task of formally identifying the remains of the 17 people who died in a bus crash near Cradock began on Monday, an Arrive Alive spokesperson said.

"The identification started this morning," said Tshepo Machaea.

A schoolbus and a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibus crashed on the R61 between Cradock and Graaff-Reinet on Saturday.

In the bus were staff and pupils, mainly from Cradock Primary School in the small Eastern Cape town, who were on their way to a sports event. In the minibus were adults and children travelling from Cape Town to Mthatha.

Principal killed

Machaea said the most of the identification process would take place on Wednesday when relatives and next-of-kin arrived on a bus arranged for them by a private transport company from Cape Town.

"It is very traumatising. The department of social development will have social workers and counsellors on hand to help with this."

Both drivers died in the crash. The school was closed on Monday as it came to terms with the tragedy, said Loyiso Pulumani, spokesperson for Eastern Cape education MEC Mandla Makupula.

His office said the school principal had been identified as Wimpie van der Merwe, who The Times reported would have turned 52 next month. One of the schoolchildren who died was SC Ferreira.

Deputy principal Alfie Blume was critically injured and was in hospital in Bloemfontein. Teachers Ray-Jean Wright and Jacques de Meillon were flown by helicopter to Greenacres Hospital in Port Elizabeth, for intensive care, reported The Times newspaper.

Pulumani said Mapakula and his acting head of department, Mthunywa Ngonzo, would visit the school on Tuesday to express their condolences, and to see what help could be provided.

Teacher shortage

Pulumani said the crash had compounded an impending teaching crisis at the school as, besides existing vacancies, two teachers were booked off ill for treatment and recovery from cancer.

Before the accident, the former model C school had applied for extra teachers.

Now it had lost its principal, and was uncertain about when its deputy and the two other teachers would be able to return.

"He [Mapakula] will have a better outlook once he has a meeting with the school," said Pulumani.

He said it had been established that Ferreira was not a pupil at Cradock Primary School, but was a Grade R pupil at a preparatory school in the area. Because he was a little older, he could play rugby for the Cradock Primary School team, so was on the trip.

Machaea said Transport Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga and the Road Accident Fund would help next-of-kin with the funerals by transporting the remains of those who were killed.
Read more on:    east london  |  accidents

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