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ALL Kgositsile Sekwena dreamed of was to enrol for a medical course at the University of Johannesburg. Instead, the prospective student yesterday watched helplessly as his mother died in his arms.
Gloria Sekwena had, like thousands of parents and young school leavers, queued outside UJ's entrance for several hours hoping to submit late applications.
But Sekwena - a professional nurse who travelled on December 29 from London where she and her husband Joseph had worked for several years - will never see her eldest son realise his dreams.
Yesterday morning she became the victim of a stampede that claimed her life and seriously injured 22 others.
Described as "avoidable", Sekwena's death shortly after 7am sent shockwaves throughout the country and resulted in the university's vice-chancellor Ihron Rensburg making concessions to allow about 6,000 more would-be students to submit their late applications.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande scrambled for solutions to deal with some 180,000 first years in 2012.
Yesterday Kgositsile, 18, was overwhelmed by grief, with family members trickling into the university's campus, all battling to come to terms with the loss of their "jovial" mother, sister and aunt.
A sobbing Kgositsile was consoled at the university's centre for psychological services where he had to be tranquillised by a nurse and attended to by a psychologist.
An emotional family member said they received a frantic call from a "confused" Kgositsile, who screamed: "My mum is unconscious. I need help. Please come."
"We immediately switched on the TV and heard that someone had died. We didn't know what to think," said the relative who spoke on condition of anonymity..
"I wasn't sure what was going on and the next minute he called again, crying, saying, 'My mother is no more'."
A few hours after receiving an injection, Kgositsile told family members of his mother's final minutes.
"He said people started pushing and shoving, and that chaos erupted when someone jumped the fence to get into the university.
"He said he fell to the side and his mother was still in the crowd, people were stepping on her and pushing her. She disappeared in the crowd.
"He was looking for his mother and when he found her she was unconscious already. He was crying. She died within minutes.
"He just said, 'I don't have a mother anymore'."
Sekwena is said to have sustained "no real visible injuries" and suffered from internal bleeding and shock.
Other members of the family had also wanted to queue at the university but Sekwena discouraged them. "We were also going to come here. But she said, 'I don't want you guys to get hurt, people push each other'".
Yesterday, shortly after 4pm, UJ staff escorted Kgositsile and some of his relatives to the mortuary to identify Sekwena's body.
Joseph Sekwena is said to be making travel arrangements to get to South Africa on the first available flight.
The couple's other son, Mosimane, is in Grade 12. He was on a school camp and is said to have learnt of his mother's death on Facebook.
The relative said: "I don't know how we're going to deal with this. But I think it's going to be very difficult."