There were tears and sorrow in Thokoza Village near KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga on Saturday when a police officer, his wife, two children and another related child were laid to rest after they were all killed in a car accident.
Constable Orris Ndhlovu died on June 14 with his wife Elsie Masombuka, their two daughters Ntombikayise and Minienhle - aged six and eight respectively - as well as 11-year-old Lucia Masombuka. Lucia is the daughter of Elsie's sister. Spokesperson for the provincial Community Safety department, Moeti Mmusi, said the accident happened at about 20:00 on the R544 Road between Emalahleni and Verena.
"It was a head-on collision that happened between two sedans, and it claimed six lives," said Mmusi.
"The sixth deceased is a man who was a passenger in another sedan. The driver of that sedan is still in hospital in a critical condition, and two other people who were passengers in his car were admitted to the hospital and later discharged."
Addressing mourners estimated to be about 5 000 at the God Is Able Church, provincial Community Safety MEC Gabisile Shabalala appealed to motorists in general to exercise caution on the roads. She described the death of 33-year-old Ndhlovu as a big loss to the provincial government.
"We feel a lot of pain and ask ourselves who will protect us," said Shabalala.
"If we lose our police officers in road crashes, how are we going to fight crime?"
Follow the traffic rules
"We have road rules and I'd like to ask you to follow these rules. If the speed limit on the road is 60km/h, do not exceed that limit. If you feel tired while driving, look for a safe place and stop the car to rest. And do not drive while under the influence of alcohol."
Sounds of weeps were sporadically heard in and outside the church during the proceedings of the funeral service. Mourners included police officers, young girls and boys clad in a school uniform, who shed tears.
Ndhlovu joined the South African Police Service (SAPS) in 2008 as a police constable at the Tweefontein police station near KwaMhlanga, according to an obituary read out during the funeral service. He was a member of the Middelburg Flying Squad at the time of his death, where he had been serving since 2010.
Elsie Masombuka, 28, was an employee at a hotel in Emalahleni at the time of her death.
Ndhlovu's chief commander Sergeant Mandla Shaya described him as a dedicated police officer who loved his family.
"He often travelled with his family when going out on trips," said Shaya.
Spokesperson for both the Ndhlovu and Masombuka families, Vetman Masombuka, told mourners that the accident left the two families extremely distraught.
"We once met as two families and reached an agreement [for the deceased to get married] but we did not know that we will again meet in this sad way. We could hardly sleep since this accident happened," said Vetman.