Family, friends bid farewell to Michaelhouse teen after fatal crash

2017-09-08 19:51
The memorial service of Themba Dloti who dies in an accident. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

The memorial service of Themba Dloti who dies in an accident. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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Durban – The father of Themba Dloti, the Michaelhouse pupil who was killed in a bus crash this week, described his son as a happy student who was always smiling and willing to help.

"It is very hard to talk about Themba. He always had a smile. Those long giraffe legs of his used to trip over everything. The best way we can remember my son is to talk about the things he was about," said Thabo Dloti, before those who had gathered at the Michaelhouse chapel on Friday.

Thabo said Themba was "truly the best".

"He was only given 16 years but he is a star that will shine in our hearts. It is because of the manner [in which] he addressed us all [that] touched us in a very special way."

Hundreds gathered at the school chapel in the Howick area where friends, family and school staff paid their respects to a jovial, happy young man.

The teenager was killed in a bus accident earlier this week in which 40 pupils were injured.

Thabo said his son was a "great defender of his brother".

"Every reprimand we gave to Thabang in his presence was questioned. He would argue very strongly. He was an energy bunny in our lives. He touched us with his energy and smile."

Gentle, friendly

His father described how Themba often had strong opinions.

"I remember we once discussed him leaving cricket for three hours. He wanted to leave and I wanted him to see it through. He stood his ground for a long time. He was that kind of a person. He was strong."

According to Thabo, his son also had a gentle side.

"He had a gentle side that offered comfort to all. We were always inundated by his friends when he was at home. It was good."

Thabo said Themba's charm and smile were a sign of something far stronger inside.

"He stood for the things he believed in. He stood his ground. He would say things with strength and determination. Up and until age six he didn't wear shoelaces. If he couldn't do it properly he did not want it in his life."

He went on to describe his son as someone who was giving and generous.

"He gave generously. He always had adventure written all over his face. Our holidays were always what Themba wanted to do. He made us do so much more than we would have."

Michaelhouse family

Thabo said that Michaelhouse was a special place for his son.

"He did a lot in his 16 years, but coming to Michaelhouse was a big thing for him. His mother wanted him to have a choice of where to go. We lost a bit of Themba when he came here. This place has become like his family."

Thabo joked that when Themba's mother Thandeka wanted to spend time with him, he would say he was "doing stuff".

"I used to tell him, you better just go have dinner with your mother young man. Or else!"

Thabo said that now that his son had died, his memory had to live on.

"There is one thing we must do. It is our challenge to leave his legacy going strong."

Fellow pupils and teachers referred to him as bright, energetic and always willing to help others.

"He saw everyone around him. Cared [for] and respected those around him. Made those around him feel special. He was the most amazing child I ever met," said one of his close friends.

School to investigate accident

Michaelhouse school president Ross Armstrong said that while the incident was tragic, "it was an emotional enlightening to the power of the school to bind us all as brothers".

"Beyond years. Beyond decades. Beyond generations. There is a power that exists that comes from our time there. That it took an event such as this for some to realise the emotional energy and bonds that exist today, years, decades and generations post leaving can only be seen as a glorious silver lining on an otherwise heartbreaking event."

Armstrong said that the school would investigate the cause of the accident.

"Today we still have nine boys and one teacher who are ... in various hospitals around Pietermaritzburg. They are generally in good spirits and are receiving many visitors. Many still have follow-up surgery – a few extremely serious – to undergo."

He continued: "As the practical realities of the tragedy come home to us, processes continue to be followed up on as we engage with insurers and lawyers. We have appointed an independent investigation into the cause of the accident and expect the results soon."

Read more on:    durban  |  accidents

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