A journey towards healing for parents of Imbali bakkie crash victims

2018-02-12 10:25
One day after the devastating crash in Imbali that claimed the lives of eight children and left many more critical, dignitaries and representatives from the KwaZulu-Natal Government took time to console the school and families that lost loved ones.

One day after the devastating crash in Imbali that claimed the lives of eight children and left many more critical, dignitaries and representatives from the KwaZulu-Natal Government took time to console the school and families that lost loved ones. (File)

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Living through the pain.

That is how the parents of the Fezokuhle Primary School crash victims have described their lives since the harrowing crash.

Eight children were killed and scores of others injured when the bakkie careered down the hill on January 28, 2015 and crashed into a house in Imbali unit 18.

Last week, the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court acquitted the driver of the bakkie Lungile Mthimkhulu (36) of eight culpable homicide charges arising from the accident.

The verdict of the lengthy trial was met with disappointment from some parents who had packed the public gallery.

Slindile Mchunu, the mother of Sinakhokonke Mchunu who died in the crash, said her family was on a journey towards healing.

“My child may have been killed but I hold no grudges.

“It’s all in the past. I have healed,” said Mchunu.

Mchunu, who lost her eldest child, said dealing with the loss has been challenging.

“I have two other children and the process has not been easy. We often reminisce about all the good memories we shared with her.”

She said she had made a conscious decision not to follow the trial for her own “sanity”.

“All I wanted to do was focus on helping my family to heal. I didn’t worry myself about the verdict of the trial because I knew it wouldn’t bring my child back.”

She said she missed her daughter all the time.

“There will always be memories. I think of her smile, her warmth and love,” she said with a wide smile.

Another parent, Thanda Fola, painted an emotional picture of the effect of the accident on her son who survived the crash.

She told Weekend Witness that he had suffered a head injury and has been forgetful since the accident three years ago.

“I was told by a doctor while he was still in a coma that it had been discovered after scans that he had traumatic brain injury,” said Fola.

She said he spent two weeks in the intensive care unit at St Anne’s hospital and had 36 stitches in his head from the accident.

“He is still struggling with forgetfulness since the accident. If I ask him to do something he will forget until he is reminded of what he was asked to do.”

Fola said her son could not remember many details about the accident and did not like talking about it.

Although the bakkie crash almost robbed Fola of her only son, she admitted that he still uses a bakkie to get to school.

“It’s unsettling. Every time I hear that there’s been a bakkie accident I panic. I wish there was a safer alternative but all we have are the bakkies.”

Fola, who followed the trial closely, said although she was disappointed by the verdict, she did not hate the driver.

“We didn’t get justice for our children but it’s done,” she added.

Thabsile Shezi lost her only child, Yolanda, in the crash.

“I’m learning to live through the pain. My heart still bleeds but I am learning to accept that she is gone.”

Recalling the fateful day, Shezi said she was working in Durban when she received an emergency phone call to come back home: “I knew someone had died. I felt it in my gut but I didn’t expect it to be my daughter.

“When we arrived at the hospital I kept praying for my child to be alive but I was told she was among those who died. The police said her body was found buried under the rubble.”

Shezi described Yolanda as a quiet child who had aspirations of becoming a social worker.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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