School bids headboy farewell

2008-11-02 00:00

It was a poignant moment as a cloud of white doves flew over the coffin of St Charles College former head boy Samukele Khumalo, affectionately known as “Samke”, at a memorial service on Saturday.

The promising youngster was among four young people killed in an accident on the N3 in the early hours of October 26.

Tears flowed as the coffin was placed into the hearse and his peers and relatives said their final farewells.

The boys of St Charles, staff members, parents (including KZN Premier S’bu Ndebele and his wife) and many friends and family gathered to pay tribute to Samke. Those who could not be accommodated in the school’s chapel were seated in an adjacent hall where the proceedings were shown on a big screen.

Two noticeboards in front of the chapel were full of messages of condolence, many from other schools.

Samke’s popularity was also evidenced by the presence of many of his peers from other schools.

The three other accident victims — municipal employee Mancane Thobisile Ngcobo (25), Nomonde Hadebe (19), a pupil of Girls’ High School, and Silindile Nolwandle Manyathi (25), an employee of the Transport Department — were also laid to rest at the weekend and their passing mourned by family and friends.

Two St Charles pupils who survived the accident, Sphamanda Bhengu (18) and Sphelele Khumalo (17), were able to attend Saturday’s service. The seriously injured “Spha” was in a wheelchair and The Witness was told he had to return to hospital immediately afterwards.

He told The Witness through his mother, Pinky Bhengu, last week that he and three friends, including his two St Charles classmates, accepted a lift on the back of the bakkie that crashed when the vehicle they had hired to transport them from the Currie Cup final failed to arrive.

The Ford Bantam bakkie overturned on the N3 near the Market Road offramp.

Police have reported that the vehicle had no canopy and the passengers on the back were flung off.

A culpable homicide docket has been opened in connection with the accident.

Apart from his leadership role as head boy of St Charles, Samke was a keen sportsman. He was captain of the school’s first rugby team, captained the basketball team and participated in soccer.

During the service, mourners viewed video clips of Samke at school and his final speech as head boy on the Thursday night preceding the fatal crash, when he handed over the reins to Monde Mngadi as the 2009 head boy.

In that speech, Samke thanked his peers for giving him the chance to lead them and said that being associated with them would always be a highlight of his life. “Remember this, whoever we may be, whatever our immediate interests are, however much we carry baggage from our past … let us stand firm today and say, ‘nothing can stop us now’. St Charles is riding the crest of a wave, keep it there,” were his parting words to his school.

Headmaster Ronnie Kuhn said at the service he was at a loss for words. “This is a sad, tragic day.”

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