'I felt useless as a father’

2013-02-07 00:00

A MERE three steps.

That was the distance that separated Wandile Ngcobo (3) from his dad, when a grader smashed into their Edendale home on Tuesday, crushing the toddler to death.

Yesterday, Wandile’s anguished father, Sandile Ngcobo (25), spoke of how he had wanted to give his son the life he himself was denied when growing up.

“I wanted to provide for him what was never given to me as a child, because I struggled growing up and did not want my son to live like me.”

Ngcobo, a single father who has helped make ends meet through odd jobs, said all he ever wanted was to be a loving father to his child.

He described how he had bathed his son in preparation for creche on the fateful day.

“I had just finished bathing him in the washtub and I took three steps away to fetch a towel to dry him off.”

That was to be the last memory he had of Wandile alive.

“The next thing I knew, I was hit by bricks as the wall came crashing down on me and I was flung away by the grader and cut by the roof of the house.”

When Ngcobo extricated himself, he immediately went to check on his son.

“I thought he had been covered by the curtains [which had fallen], but little did I know that he was stuck under the tyre of the grader.”

Despite his injuries, Ngcobo tried to lift the heavy grader wheel to try and save his son.

“Even though I was also in pain myself, I felt more agony seeing my son lying there unconscious under the grader.

“I was even more hurt knowing that I could not do anything to save my son … I felt useless as a father.”

Ngcobo, who was admitted to hospital on Tuesday and discharged later that day, said he had difficulty sleeping and was on sleeping pills.

“Even though Wandile was tragically taken away from me, I still thank God for giving me the strength to love him when he was alive,” he told The Witness.

Referring to his nephews, Anele (2) and Alondwe (3), who were also in the house at the time of the accident, he said: “I don’t know what would have happened if I had not instructed the other children to go to the other room to watch television, because they could also have been killed.”

Anele, Alondwe and their mother, Hlengiwe Mdlaose, were also injured and hospitalised.

Yesterday, Alondwe was the only one yet to be discharged.

Wandile’s uncle, Wiseman Sibongiseni Kunene, said funeral arrangements had been finalised and his nephew would be buried in Sweetwaters on Saturday.

“We are still struggling to get accommodation after the accident and we hope we will be able to provide transport for the Snathing community to attend the funeral on Saturday.”

Kunene said his brother’s identity document and Wandile’s birth certificate and photographs were destroyed in the accident.

The owner of the grader, Kushal Deeplaul, of Deeplaul’s Transport and Plant Hire, said yesterday: “The accommodation and funeral arrangements are in order and have been paid for at my cost.”

He would also arrange transport for the funeral if the family asked him for help.

Kunene said no one had contacted the family to advise them of alternative accommodation.

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