Crèche: Family’s heartbreak

2008-07-30 00:00

Anita and Sid Moonsamy struggled for 17 years to have their baby daughter, Saiyona, whom they buried yesterday.

She was killed when the owner of the crèche she attended accidentally drove into her and nine other children on Tuesday.

Friends, neighbours and parents of children who attended the Oriental Day Care Centre in Orient Heights with Saiyona said it was heartbreaking to watch the family weep for a child they had wanted so desperately and who did not live long enough to see her first birthday.

The Moonsamys have an 18-year-old son, Vileshen. The family would not speak to The Witness yesterday. A family member said they were trying to come to terms with their loss.

The nine other children who were injured have been discharged from hospital.

The accident made national headlines. The crèche owner, a 44-year-old woman, had got into the car that was parked in the driveway, meaning to reverse it. She engaged the wrong gear and drove forward into the garage, hitting the children.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said the woman cannot be named as charges have yet to be laid.

He said the woman, who is in hospital in a traumatised state, has given a statement to the police, and there are statements from other witnesses.

Budhram said that given the freak nature of the incident, police are seeking guidance from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions about how to proceed.

“We are handling these investigations with caution and in a humane manner, given the extremely tragic circumstances in which it all happened,” Budhram said.

There have been mixed reactions from parents whose children attend the crèche. Some are angry; others are confused and trying to make sense of what happened.

Uppermost in their minds was the fact that it could have been their child.

One mother, who did not want to be named, said everyone is upset, but she knows that the person hurting as badly is the woman who runs the crèche.

“I’m not angry at anybody, I’m reminding myself all the time that this was an accident, and that she loved our children. She ran a crèche for girls and just one little boy and she was very good to them.

“Accidents happen in a split second and our whole lives can change,” the parent said.

She said her three-year-old daughter had told her she does not want to go to school because the car was there.

“She hasn’t had a nightmare so far, but I can see that she is disturbed and the nurses at the hospital said that the children must go for counselling.”

The Msunduzi Municipality said yesterday it has no records of the Oriental Day Care Centre and that it might be operating illegally. Spokeswoman Evodia Mahlangu said an inspection has been planned for today and the municipality will comment after the inspection.

In February two-year-old Thando Mkhize drowned in a swimming pool at the Stepping Stones crèche.

The two crèches are on the same road, just a few blocks apart, on opposite sides of the street.

Stepping Stones’ owner said she was inundated with calls and visits from people who assumed the incident had happened at her crèche.

Attempts to get a comment from the owners of the day-care centre at No. 90 were unsuccessful. The gate was locked and there was no response when this reporter knocked at the gate.

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