POLITICIANS hijacked yesterday's memorial service for the four pupils killed in Monday's tragic illegal drag racing incident.

Families had to wait almost an hour before proceedings could begin because some of the political dignitaries arrived late for the service scheduled for 2pm.

Families and mourners had to wait inside an unbearably hot community hall in Protea South for the ANC youth and women's leagues delegations, much to the frustration of pupils.

"As the student leaders at Altmont Technical High School we feel sidelined because the politicians have hijacked what for some is the final farewell to our friends, class and schoolmates," complained Mkhari Ntsako, president of Altmont's SRC. He was supported by his deputy Musa Bhebotshani.

Programme director Victor Molefe kept chanting "Viva ANC Youth League Viva," throughout the two-hourproceedings.

Towards the end, the ANC Youth Leagues's Pule Mabe caught wind of the complaints. He told the gathering: "We don't need permission to send our condolences. We are part of society and the leaders of youth."

Meanwhile, as the community comforted the bereaved, the Mushwana family sat at their son, Fumani's, bedside at Chris Hani-BaragwanathHospital.

Fumani's mother, Bridget, was too emotional to speak when Sowetan contacted her yesterday. She handed the phone to her husband Joel.

"We are very tired. We have been up and down between home and the hospital and have hardly rested. It is really taking its strain on my wife," Mushwana said.

He said the family had been in contact with the school staff and the other families that had lost their children.

"We have a chaplain who has supported us through this tough time and we will be fine," Mushwana said.

At Protea South Community Hall, pupils from Almont High School and Jules High School - which the dead pupils had attended - were at the memorial service, as was Gauteng MEC for education Barbara Creecy.

Altmont High principal Joe Molefe described one of the boys, Andile Mthombeni, as a "respectful" boy.

Fellow pupils told mourners how special their classmates were.

On Wednesday, Molemo Maarohanye and co-accused Themba Tshabalala appeared on murder charges in the Protea magistrate's court.