Teachers, pupils grieve
Sthabisile Maureen Nkonde, Bonisiwe Glory Sithole, Nombulelo Joyce Vilakazi and Khazamula Maurice Vutsulu were in the prime of their lives.
But last Wednesday they all perished in an accident when the car in which they were travelling collided with a truck.
While this tragic loss will haunt their families for ever, equally devastated are their 231 pupils, their surviving colleagues and the community of Mahamba near Piet Retief in Mpumalanga.
Pupils, the community and the Mpumalanga education department received the sad news of their death with shock.
The teachers taught at Berbice Primary School.
The four were half of the school's teaching staff.
When the accident happened, the teachers were on their way to Pongola in KwaZulu-Natal.
Born on September 17 1966 in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, Nkonde attended Zamani Combined School. She later enrolled at Banzana High School and trained as a teacher at Lycium College of Education.
In 1992 she started her teaching career in KwaZulu-Natal, where she remained until March 2008.
In April this year she started teaching at Berbice Primary School, where she was employed until her death last week.
She is survived by her husband and one child.
Her colleague, Sithole, was born on June 18 1971 in Swaziland. She started her schooling at Berbice Lower Primary School and moved on to the Cana Mission School, where she did her higher primary education.
She then went to Bambana Secondary School in Belgrade. She matriculated at Simtfolile High School in Fernie Trust. She then enrolled with the Applesbosch College of Education for a Primary Teachers Diploma.
In 2000 she was attached to Sibusisweni High School as a substitute teacher for three months.
In April 2001 she was employed at Berbice Primary School and acted as a principal for a while.
She enrolled with the University of the North for a degree in education and graduated in 2007.
Vilakazi was born on July 18 1979 at Berbice Farm in Mpumalanga. She started schooling at Berbice and completed her matric at Cana Combined School.
She started working at Berbice Primary School as a grade R teacher in 2005. She is survived by her only child, father, four sisters and two brothers.
Vutsulu was born on March 21973, in Limpopo. He passed his matric at Khomanani High School in 1994.
He furthered his studies at Shingwedzi College of Education, where he obtained his teaching diploma.
He was employed as a mentor at IEC in 1999. In 2001 he was employed as an initiator at a water purification company. In 2007 he was a teacher at Mlamli Abet Centre in Tshiawelo, Soweto.
On April 19 this year, he was employed by the Mpumalanga education department as a teacher at Berbice Primary School where he met his untimely death.
He leaves behind his wife, one child, parents, four brothers and a sister.