New home, but the bad memories linger

2015-03-21 00:00

AT first glance the newly-built house in Imbali looks like any other brightly coloured home with an immaculate lawn.

Just two months ago, house number 340 was the horrific scene of a bakkie crash that left eight Fezokuhle Primary School pupils dead and a family homeless.

Sibusiso Ngubeni (46) said the “emotional damage caused by the accident will forever be engrained in my mind”.

“The house may look beautiful on the outside, but we are struggling to cope emotionally,” said Ngubeni.

The father of four said he notified his insurers about the January accident and they sent contractors to start rebuilding the house in early February.

“The government did little for us. The Department of Social Development gave us a grocery voucher of R1 500 that they said was meant to help us replace some of the groceries that had been damaged during the accident.”

He said the Department of Education offered the family counselling, but his wife, Lungile, was the only family member who took up the offer.

“The family is recovering slowly. It’s my wife that I am worried about. She is still severely traumatised. It is going to be a long road to recovery for her because she saw everything.

“She struggles with insomnia and she experiences body pains which can be attributed to the lingering pain. When she hears strange noises she gets a fright,” he said.

Ngubeni said the family suffered a huge financial setback.

He has asked his local ward councillor to install speed-calming measures to prevent further accidents in the area.

“There are no traffic-calming measures on the road. We asked them to put speed humps or concrete barriers on that sharp bend but not a single official has honoured their promise.”

He said he understood that the focus was on the families of the deceased, “but my family is also grieving a loss”.

“We are carrying the loss of six children who died in our house. We also went through a period of mourning.”

Ngubeni said various churches had performed cleansing ceremonies at the house, but it was the ceremony initiated by the parents that was more important.

“Before some of the funerals took place the parents came to fetch the souls of their loved ones. They also came with a goat which they had purchased and a representative from the Shembe church and the spirits were taken to their resting place,” said Ngubeni.

When asked if the family had considered moving out of the house, he said: “We had to be realistic about the situation. We thought about it and we said given the attention that this incident received, we were now going to struggle to get the value we needed to be able to buy another house.”

One of Ngubeni’s biggest concerns was that the incident was becoming a distant memory in people’s minds.

“I am talking particularly about the safety measures.

“The municipality is going to treat the request like any other and soon people are going to forget what happened,” he said, adding that he will never forget.

THE investigation into what caused the crash that claimed the lives of eight Fezokuhle Primary School pupils is ongoing. The Witness understands that the bakkie driver, who lives in Imbali, has not yet been charged because the evidence has not been fully processed.

The Witness learnt this week that exhibits from the bakkie had been sent to a forensics lab in Pretoria and the results would take a few weeks to be processed and delivered to KwaZulu-Natal police.

It is believed that the bakkie driver has been laying low and has not contacted the families of the survivors or deceased from the crash as she fears she will be attacked by the residents.

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