Tombstones to be put up in remembrance of horror minibus crash victims

2017-05-03 18:26
A grieving parent looks at the picture of her child at the memorial for the 18 pupils who died in the Verena crash (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

A grieving parent looks at the picture of her child at the memorial for the 18 pupils who died in the Verena crash (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

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Sokhulumi - Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has told family members and fellow learners at a memorial service in Sokhulumi, Mpumalanga, that tombstones in remembrance of the 18 pupils who died in the horror minibus crash, will be put up.

Lesufi said the tombstones, bearing the names of the learners who died, will be put up at the entrances of Refano Primary School and Mahlenga High School - the two schools who had lost pupils in the crash.

"It was indeed a sad day and April 21 will remain a dark day in education and the history of our country. We are here today to strengthen families and ensure our support," he said.

Lesufi said they will sign off the DNA test results and hand these over to families on Thursday, when the memorial service is expected to be continued.

"Tomorrow will bring back the pain that occurred on that black Friday, but we want to tell the families that we have done all that we could," Lesufi said.

The community hall in Sokhulumi was packed to capacity. Several school principals and learners from both schools and surrounds attended the memorial.

The two school choirs sang gospel songs.

Government officials, Student Government Body officials and other leaders in the community had also attended the memorial.

Pieces of paper decorated with glitter were placed in front of the portraits of the children who died, showing each of their names.

Some parents along with their other children had one last look at the pictures and pointed at it to show the younger ones. The hurt in their eyes was evident.

‘We are doing it for our friends who passed on'

Before the memorial started, fellow pupils sobbed uncontrollably, staring at the pictures of their former classmates. School teachers later handed out tissues and gently rubbed their backs to comfort them.

Lesufi said they should not allow death to be normal, saying it was abnormal to lose 20 people at the same time. He described it as a national disaster.

"Death has robbed us of our loved ones, death has, like a true criminal, stolen those who we love truly."

He had ensured parents of his support and said after the funeral on Saturday, the department would provide transport for pupils travelling between Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

"When we visited families, the level of poverty was at the highest, but they took their last cents to send their children to school and fight poverty," he said.

Lesufi said the R25 road would also undergo radical change in 2018, saying it will never be the same again.

He said 2.3 million learners in Gauteng will pray and bid farewell.

Education MEC in Mpumalanga, Regina Mohaule had urged pupils and teachers of the two schools to stay motivated and work harder.

"This year we are doing it for the pictures before us. Learners for the sake of your friends, study harder and say, 'This year we are doing it for our friends who passed on'," Mohaule said

Mohaule read Romans 8:35, 'Who can separate us from the love of Christ," and told them to be strong.

Sixteen of the 18 learners will be buried in Wolvenkop, Mpumalanga on Saturday. One learner will be buried in KwaZulu-Natal and a second in Limpopo.

Read more on:    panyaza lesufi  |  mbombela  |  accidents

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