An education to die for

By Drum Digital
19 January 2012

The horror stampede at the UJ campus on 10 January left a student’s mother dead – and highlighted the growing crisis in tertiary education.

The road that leads to the house in Dan Pienaarville, Krugersdorp, seems endless, perhaps indicative that the road to recovery for the family who lives here may be a long one.

And it doesn’t help that the commission of enquiry into the stampede that killed Gloria Sekwena and left 22 people injured at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on 10 January could drag on and on.

No sooner do we stop outside the yard of the white house, wondering whether to enter or park on the street to minimise the intrusion into their grief, than a blue electric gate slides silently open.

We drive in and a family member greets us amiably, although the pain of heartache lines his face.

“You can go in,” he says as he returns to a stool under a tree and sits like a solitary sentry of the family’s bereavement.

In spite of the hushed tone in the house where a dozen or so mourners, still clearly in a state of shock, cluster around consoling one another, we are warmly welcomed in hushed whispers and led into the lounge.

We are politely told that the family has elected a spokesperson to speak to the media to minimise the psychological harm to Gloria’s sons, Kgosietsile (19) and Mosimane (17).

The protective circle around the boys and their father, Joseph (47), is understandable because Kgosi, particularly, is traumatised by his mother’s untimely death.

It was on his account that she was at UJ on the fateful day of the stampede. All she had wanted was to see her son fulfil his dream to study biotechnology at the university.

Gloria, who was 46 at the time of her death, had gone to UJ early on the day of the tragedy to stand with her son in a queue that grew three kilometres long with frustrated youths anxious to register for their studies.

In a moment, the restless crowd stampeded, trampling those ahead of them. Back at the Sekwena home the family is busy with funeral preparations.

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