bus victims laid to rest

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Thousands of mourners, among them Mpumalanga premier Thabang Makwetla and provincial roads and transport MEC David Mabuza, braved the drizzling rain to attend the mass funeral of nine people who were killed in a bus accident on March 5.

The coffins of the victims were placed in the middle of the Mgobaneni soccer field near Hazyview, on a big stage with a state-of-the-art sound system.

Families of the victims were accommodated in their own individual tents, with each being identified by a small placard bearing their surnames.

Buscor, the transport company that owns the ill-fated bus that killed 12 people, provided buses to ferry mourners, especially the families, to the funeral.

Makwetla called on all road users to exercise more responsibility during the Easter holidays and said the provincial government would continue to invest resources to improve and rehabilitate the roads' infrastructure.

Makwetla said he was pleased that all the injured he visited at hospital did not lay any blame on either the driver or the condition of the road.

"It was pleasing to hear them accepting that it was just an accident. They did not blame anyone for it, though the road was a bit slippery because it was drizzling," Makwetla told the mourners.

The chairman of Buscor's board of directors, Norah Fakude-Nkuna, said she had never known an accident like this in her time at Buscor.

"The accident happened at a time when we were saying the safety of our passengers comes first," she said.

"I thank the families for accepting that this was but an accident.

"All the victims' families that I visited welcomed me and not a single family put blame on anyone for the disaster."

Gospel musician Donny Ngwenyama performed his Ekanana song, warming the hearts of the bereaved.

"We need Messiah, the lion of Judah," Ngwenyama sang.

Samson Zulu, the father of one of the victims, Sibindi Monday Zulu, said it was very painful for them to learn about the bus disaster because no one knew who had died or who had survived.

The driver of the double-coach bus lost control along the R40 road between White River and Nelspruit, in Mpumalanga, resulting in the bus overturning.

Eleven passengers died on the spot and more than 80 were injured and taken to the Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit.

The nine victims whose funeral took place on Saturday are: Samuel Masuku, 25, Mbulawa Mhlanga, 53, Lucas Nghutsane, 27, Bethuell Siwele, 24, Thandi Nkuna, Themba Mdluli, 22, Cansas Khoza, 30, Anna Seriti and Sibindi Monday Zulu, 47.

The other two deceased were buried in Mbuzini.