MEC speaks out at funeral for bus crash pupils

2013-06-07 14:33

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Eastern Cape Transport MEC Thandiswa Marawu has sympathised with families of five schoolchildren killed during an accident involving a bus company contracted to her department through the scholar-transport system.

Marawu was speaking during a mass funeral of the five schoolchildren from Nongemane Senior Secondary School in Ngqeleni this afternoon.

The MEC told mourners at the funeral service that the blame for the accident lay squarely at the door of the department’s service providers, One Future Development 46, whose bus plunged into an embankment last Tuesday, killing the five pupils and injuring more than 30.

“What makes it even more difficult for me as the MEC responsible for this service is to stand in front of mourning families and take responsibility on behalf of government, whereas we all know that we have service providers who caused this pain,” said Marawu.

According to Marawu’s spokesperson, Ncedo Kumbaca, the accident was caused by a mechanical defect.

This shocked Marawu, who said that when entering into a contract with the bus service, her department had stipulated that all vehicles involved in scholar transport must have a certificate of fitness and be tested for roadworthiness every six months, something which was not done in this case.

“I would like to register our disappointment as the provincial government to the public-transport operators of this province for the continuous loss of children’s lives due to accidents involving scholar-transport service providers,” said Marawu.

The province has seen a number of horrific accidents involving pupils in the last few months.

In April, four pupils from Jikindaba Senior Secondary School in Flagstaff died when a bakkie they were travelling in from school overturned.

In another accident also involving a bakkie, six pupils from Mabalengwe Senior Secondary School died in March. Their bakkie had also capsized.

Marawu said the children must not die in vain and that those responsible for their deaths will face the music.

“The department’s legal team is looking at invoking penalty clauses in the contract with One Future Development 46 so that the person responsible for the death of these schoolchildren can be made accountable.

“As the MEC responsible for the transportation of learners in this province, I believe that the accident that led to the loss of lives of these kids must open our eyes wider in order to ensure that incidents of this nature do not occur again. These children must not die in vain,” said Marawu.

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