'I pray I survive the loneliness' - Mom of 3 who died in Pongola crash says as driver ditches bail bid

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She lost her three kids in one accident and is still reeling.
She lost her three kids in one accident and is still reeling.

She’s numb. She’s buried her three children and the house still feels so empty without her kids.

Her son and twin girls died in the Pongola crash when a truck collided with a school transport van.

More than 20 people lost their lives that day, including 18 children.

The driver, Sibusiso Siyaya (28) fled the scene and then handed himself to the police a day later.

This week he abandoned his bail application.

The matter has now been postponed to 25 October for further investigation.

Sibongile Ntshangase lost her mother two years ago and couldn’t imagine a deeper loss. Until she was called to identify the bodies of her three kids, Thembelihle Ntshangase (10), and twins Minenhle and Noluthando Ntshangase.

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She had chills because she didn’t know what to expect.

“When I got to the scene of the accident I recognised the van, there were so many bodies on the ground, and I immediately knew that my kids didn’t make it,” she says.

She tells Drum the loss of her three children has left her empty and she already misses how talkative they were. She’s been thinking about the Thursday before the accident a lot. Her son, Thembelihle asked her if he could skip school on Friday.

“I wish I had listened to my son, but then again, I didn’t know that something like this would happen. He asked not to go to school but it is time for exams, so I thought it wasn’t a good idea for them to stay behind while they are still writing exams. He told me that he is not writing on Friday, I didn’t pay any mind to it and sent them to school, and I got a that call and I wish I didn’t [send them],” Sibongile says.

That Friday, she woke them up as usual, prepared them for school, made their lunch boxes and they said goodbye.

She really couldn’t have imagined that it was their last goodbye. The next time she saw her kids, they were covered with white sheets and foil. When she arrived at the scene she was told to wait for the photographer and only then would she be able to see her babies.

“I didn’t have the strength to see them, and I think that is why I still have good memories of them as was them rushing to the transport, happy as ever.”

The truck driver Sibusiso Siyaya appeared at the Pongola Magistrates' Court on Monday in connection with the accident and he is facing 21 counts of culpable homicide.

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Sibongile says she doesn’t blame the driver because he was driving a truck that allegedly had problems with the brakes.

“I want justice for my kids, but I won’t punish the driver because if this was God’s will and was meant to happen, it would’ve happened even if he wasn’t the one driving the truck on the day,” she tells Drum.

“The driver is at fault because he was overtaking at the wrong place but being angry at him and wishing bad things upon him won’t bring my kids back. The only thing I can do right now is pray that I survive the loneliness that my kids left me with and to lean towards prayer and God because even though I want answers, my kids are dead.” 

She is not following the case, she says, and is not ready to face the driver yet because she is still hurting, however, she appreciated the support she received from her family and community members.

“I will listen on the radio. I want to focus on grieving and seeking help because I lost all my kids at once, it will take time for me to get used to that. I am glad they left me with good memories and would advise other mothers to cherish the moments they have with their kids.”

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