Emotional service for accident victims

2011-10-07 09:57

Hundreds of mourners filled the Leondale community hall in Ekurhuleni at an emotional memorial service for nine people who lost their lives in an accident involving a bus and a truck in Harrismith on Monday.

Five learners aged between nine and 13 together with their three teachers and a general assistant from Phumula Gardens Primary School lost their lives during a horrific accident on their way to an educational tour in Durban.

Speakers at yesterday’s memorial service struggled, holding back their tears as they remembered their fellow colleagues and friends.
A grief-stricken parent who collapsed while the service was under way, was comforted by friends and relatives.

A 13-year-old learner who escaped unscathed said of the accident: “It was horrific, those people died agonisingly.”

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga urged drivers to be more responsible in order to save lives on the roads.

“What is happening in this country is very sad. I think as South Africans we are reckless; there is no value for life.”

Motshekga said most drivers on the road had no respect for laws.

“It is said that the truck driver did not have a licence. I mean, how does a company allow an unqualified driver to be on the road?”

She cited other road accidents that took the lives of teachers in Knysna, Zeerust and Limpopo.

“To lose a teacher, you lose a very key community worker.”

She added that teachers were not only community workers but parents, bread winners, wives, husbands and caregivers.

“The fact that they were in a bus with those children means they loved them and wanted to take care of them.”

She called on the community to continue supporting all those affected by the accident especially those who lost their loved ones.

“For a parent, there is nothing as shattering as losing a child,” Motshekga said.

Barbara Creecy, Gauteng education MEC, accompanied by Gwen Ramokgopa, deputy health minister, visited the recovering learners at Natalspruit hospital after the memorial service.

According to a Sapa report, the truck driver, aged 28, did not have a driver’s licence and drove the vehicle without the owners’ permission.

He was expected to appear in court as soon as he had recovered from his injuries.

» Mamoya Molefe, school governing body chairperson, said the funerals of three of the deceased would take place this Saturday in Gauteng while arrangements for other funerals were not yet finalised. 

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