Memorial stones to be erected for young victims of horror accident

04 May 2017 - 08:27
By Sipho Mabena
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. Picture credit: Vathiswa Ruselo
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. Picture credit: Vathiswa Ruselo

Huge memorial stones bearing the names of eighteen pupils who perished in the horror minibus accident near Bronkhorstspruit are set to be erected in each of the two affected schools.

Gauteng education MEC‚ Panyaza Lesufi‚ said the memorial stones will be unveiled on April 21 next year at the main entrances of Refano Primary School in Verena‚ attended by fourteen of the victims‚ as well as at Mahlenga Secondary school in Sokhulumi attended by four of the victims.

Speaking at a memorial service for the victims in Sokhulumi village on Wednesday‚ Lesufi said these memorial stones would serve as a reminder of the disaster.

“The 21st of April will remain a dark day for our education‚” he said.

Lesufi also announced that on Friday‚ 2.3-million pupils at all of Gauteng’s schools will gather at assemblies at their respective schools at exactly 8am to sing in one voice as part of their symbolic send-off for their peers.

He said he hoped this gesture would strengthen the families.

Lesufi’s announcements that government had resolved to provide state-funded scholar transport for Mpumalanga pupils attending schools in Gauteng and that the R25 road -dubbed the road of death — where the accident happened will be revamped‚ received applause from the gathered mourners.

He said they were committed to concluding this programme‚ saying the national government had given the go-ahead for the provision of scholar transport.

The bereaved families have received massive support from both the Mpumalanga and Gauteng governments‚ with the Mpumalanga department of agriculture donating 14 cattle to the families.

Business people and the general public also opened their hearts and wallets‚ with Lesufi’s own clan pledging 10 cattle for the families.

The taxi industry‚ SA National Taxi Alliance Council as well as the National Taxi Alliance‚ will make taxis available to ferry mourners to the mass funeral on Saturday. Bus company Putco has also pledged to transport mourners to the funeral.

The results of DNA tests to identify the badly burned remains of the victims will be given to the families on Thursday‚ with Lesufi thanking doctors and pathologists for working around the clock to conduct the tests.

“They have done all possible — normally it takes three months to conduct the tests‚” he said.

The group died when the minibus they were travelling in crashed into a truck and burst into flames on April 21‚ leaving almost all of them burnt beyond recognition.

Prince George Mahlangu‚ the representative of the AmaNdebele Ndzundza/Sokhulumi Traditional Council‚ said the road on which the accident happened linked Gauteng and Mpumalanga but was in terrible condition.

He pleaded with authorities to fix the road as a matter of urgency in remembrance of the young lives that had been lost.

“We know how bad that road is‚ everyone who has travelled on it would attest to its condition. We plead with government to fix the road as a memory to the deceased. We have never had a tragedy of this magnitude in Sokhulumi. We are inconsolable with grief. There is nothing painful as losing a child‚” he said.

Of the seven that were injured‚ three are still in hospital..

Forensic experts finalised the process of identification of the deceased on Monday.

Seventeen of the victims‚ which includes one of the two adults killed in the crash‚ will be buried in Wolvenkop in Verena on Saturday while two learners will be buried on Sunday in KwaNongoma in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo respectively

The driver of the minibus was buried in Wolvenkop last Saturday.


TMG Digital