Where is she? - boy at mom's coffin

2012-07-22 22:38
Train, truck crash (Helen van Zyl, Beeld)

Train, truck crash (Helen van Zyl, Beeld)

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Malalane - Sydwell Khoza, 9, couldn't stop crying when he saw the photo of his mother, Lilian Khoza, on her coffin.

"I want my mother. Where is she?" he wailed, running up to the casket before relatives and paramedics tried to calm him down.

His mother was one of 24 Mpumalanga farmworkers who were buried on Saturday after being killed when a coal train crashed into their truck.

Comforting the mourners at the funeral at Kamhlushwa Stadium, gospel queen Rebecca Malope told them that she was once a farmworker.

"I know what it's like to work on a farm. I was a farm worker at the age of 11. We would be transported in trucks and tractors. What amazes me is that farmworkers are still being treated the same as 30 years ago," said Malope, 44.

Malope, who has just released her 33rd album, originally comes from KaNyamazane outside Mbombela.

"I was working at Alkmaar farm, which is an orange farm. We lived in an area called Famba-famba. I was staying in room number 10 with many people. There were at least more than 10 in a tiny room,"said Malope.

When she sang a song called Angingedwa (I'm not alone), the crowd stood up and danced.

The farmworkers were killed at a railway crossing between Hectorspruit and Malalane on Friday, 13 July, while on their way to harvest oranges.

Musa Mbowane, whose brother died in the crash, said Malope's singing and talking about her childhood was soothing.

Missed work


"My brother is dead. I was supposed to be on that truck that day, but I missed work. That's why I'm alive.

"It helped to know that even though Rebecca is famous now, she started out working like us and knows what it's like working on a farm in this country,"said Mbowane.

Public Enterprise Minister Malusi Gigaba told the mourners that the accident was a wake-up call for government to strengthen legislation against improper transportation and farmer workers rights.

"Not only the truck driver has to account for these deaths, but the truck owner and the farmer all have to be arrested and prosecuted for they all seemed to be negligent, which ended in the death of our beloved community members," said Gigaba.

Chairperson of the potfolio committee on transport and president of the South African National Civics Organisation (SANCO), Ruth Bhengu, said black farmworkers were being transported like potatoes.

"Our black farmer workers are being transported like potatoes, that's why they died like this.

In this democracy we fought for, people are still being transported like animals.

I also heard that the very same farmworkers are now being transported by a tractor after the accident. This needs to be stop," said Bhengu.

Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza promised to help children orphaned by the accident.
Read more on:    rebecca malope  |  malusi gigaba  |  david mabuza  |  mbombela  |  railway crashes  |  accidents  |  transport
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