Nigeria victim's family thanks Zuma

2014-09-22 19:30
Members of ministerial task team, including Jeff Radebe, stand round the aircraft. (Erin Bates, Twitter)

Members of ministerial task team, including Jeff Radebe, stand round the aircraft. (Erin Bates, Twitter)

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Pretoria - The family of Ivy Langford, 66, one of the 26 South Africans injured in the Nigeria church building collapse, applauded government and President Jacob Zuma on Monday.

"The assistance from our government has been impressive. It has been excellent," said Magda Petrus, after seeing her mother in the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.

"Our gratitude goes to everyone who assisted. We would want to thank President Jacob Zuma and all the departments. What the government did is excellent. I was very happy to see my mum."

Petrus said she had been on edge ever since she heard the news of the Lagos church collapse.

"I could not wait to see her. I arrived in Pretoria today from Uitenhage.

She was in good spirits and I think we will be celebrating the whole night," said Petrus.

Around 115 people, among them 84 South Africans, were killed and dozens trapped when the multi-storey guesthouse attached to the Synagogue Church of All Nations, run by Nigerian preacher TB Joshua, collapsed on Friday, 12 September.

Some 350 South Africans were thought to be visiting the church in the Ikotun neighbourhood of Lagos when the building came down.

Joshua, one of Nigeria's best-known evangelical preachers referred to by followers across the world as "The Prophet" or "The Man of God", on Sunday pledged to go to South Africa to meet survivors and their families.

On Monday morning, a plane carrying 25 South Africans injured in the building collapse arrived at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria.

Social workers received two South African toddlers orphaned by the collapse when they arrived at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

The two were aged 18 months and two years, acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said.

Another child, aged 6, was also part of the group of injured South Africans arriving home from Nigeria. Williams said the three children were in good hands.

Shortly after the C130 SA Air Force plane carrying them landed at Swartkop, an initial batch of the patients was whisked off to hospital. Most of the patients were brought out of the plane on stretchers and taken to ambulances.

One injured South African opted to return to the synagogue.

Chesmaine Booysen said her aunt Langford's faith had been unwavering.

"She was telling us that the moment she saw us, she could not feel any pain. Being reunited with her family made her feel strong," said Booysen.

"She comes from a very strong Christian background. She is also a very strong woman. We want to thank President Zuma for all his efforts," she said.

Langford, a mother of four children and nine grandchildren, was injured in her maiden trip outside the country.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pretoria  |  nigeria  |  west africa  |  nigeria building collapse

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