'What I saw was very bad' - Hoërskool Driehoek worker
The everyday chatter of pupils was overtaken by screams of terror when a walkway connecting the admin block to classes collapsed at a Vaal high school on Friday‚ says a shaken eyewitness.
Three children at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark were killed and 23 injured. Their ages range from 13 to 18.
"I was coming from the staff room and the pupils were making noise like every other day after assembly … immediately when I left the admin block‚ I heard a loud weird banging sound and screams … I quickly went out to check and realised that bridge had fallen‚" the cleaner told SowetanLIVE.
She said she was heartbroken at the loss of lives.
"These young people had a bright future.
"One of them was a star athlete at the school. He was such a humble‚ hardworking young man‚" she said about one of the pupils. She declined to be named.
A family member of one of the injured learners‚ Agnes Seabi‚ said the incident was heartbreaking.
"We were alerted about the incident just after 8am and rushed to check what was happening – our child was not injured but what we saw was heartbreaking because one of the children had broken legs‚ some were trapped under the concrete‚" said Seabi.
A prayer circle formed shortly after the incident‚ with family and community members gathering to console each other and find out if their children were affected.
"I am still not fine. What I saw was very bad‚" added the cleaner.
A pupil from a nearby school‚ Transvalia‚ could not help but cry as he arrived at the Driehoek school to check on his friends.
"I don’t know if they are okay‚ I have been trying to call them but none of them picked up their phones‚" said the weeping grade 9 pupil‚ Marco Lintvelt.
Linvtvet said the two schools often met for sports tournaments.
"In the field we were competitors‚ but outside we were good friends‚" he told SowetanLIVE.
Lintvelt placed a bunch of flowers on the school gates to pay his respects to the victims.
When SowetanLIVE visited the school‚ which has since been declared a crime scene‚ a small portion of the bridge was seen to have fallen.
Police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele said an inquest docket had been opened. Nine of the 23 learners were critically injured‚ Makhubele said.
"So far we will be waiting for the report from engineers as to what was the cause of the collapse‚ we believe that will assist us in our investigation."
Reports of another pupil losing his life while on the way to hospital have emerged. But Makhubele said he could not confirm if a fourth child had died.
The school has been shut until further notice.
Hoërskool Driehoek is 45 years old and has 1‚060 pupils.
A mother who rushed to the school to check on her child was injured when she was involved in a car accident en route. She was admitted to hospital‚ confirmed police spokesperson‚ Sgt Getrude Makgale.
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