Pensioner crushed to death at Zuma event

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Copy of ND no nkandla4

DAILY NEWS

Thobile Mthethwa, seen here surveying the damage outside the school, narrowly escaped injury when a wall collapsed as she waited to receive a food parcel near Jacob Zumas homestead.

Durban - A woman was crushed to death near President Jacob Zuma’s homestead at Nkandla on Friday as she waited in a queue to receive a food parcel.

Thembekile Shangase, 61, of KwaNgcolosi, Nkandla, died after a brick wall at Mnyakanyo High School collapsed on her.

She was waiting to receive a Christmas gift parcel.

Zuma organised the annual event for Nkandla’s senior citizens.

Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said the police had opened an inquest docket.

He said Shangase died after being taken to a local clinic.

Zuma extended his condolences to Shangase’s family.

He said the Department of Social Development was investigating the circumstances of the incident.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and relatives on the passing of their loved one during what was meant to be a joyous occasion for our senior citizens. The minister (Bathabile Dlamini) has assured me that the matter is being looked into,” Zuma said.

A vendor selling goods near the school, who identified herself only as Mantuli told the Daily News people had been waiting for a long time to get their parcels when the incident occurred at about 6pm.

“People were pushing each other after they had been waiting for too long to get their groceries. When a truck came through the gate, it hit the wall,” she said.

Thobile Mthethwa, 63, who was standing next to Shangase when the wall collapsed, said she could not believe she was not injured.

“I was leaning against the wall next to her,” she said.

“It suddenly collapsed but I managed to duck because I am thin and I was quicker to get away.

“Then, I just froze and shivered,” she said. “I was shocked that I was not injured. I have never seen such a brutal death in my life.”

Shangase’s son, Sifiso, said his mother was still grieving for her husband who died in February. He said he worked part-time and that his mother’s grant had helped to feed the family.

“It was painful that my mother was the only one who died among so many people who were there, but if it was God’s plan, there was nothing we could do,” he said.

He said his family had not received any feedback from the event organisers.

Thembelihle Biyela, 58, who was unable to get her parcels on Friday, was waiting at the school gate on Sunday.

She said she had given her ID book to her daughter-in-law to collect the parcels on her behalf.

“She was told I should come myself today (yesterday). But we are here today and we have not heard anything from the organisers and no one is coming to assist us,” Biyela said.

She said they were later told that parcels for Sunday’s event were for young people, not seniors.

Qhabi Biyela, 84, was also outside the gate waiting for a parcel.

“We are very worried. Others have already gone back to their homes because they do not know what is going on today,” said Biyela, who is also from the Ngidi area in Nkandla.

Zuma held a Christmas event for young people to encourage them to pursue their education through his Jacob G Zuma RDP Foundation Trust.

He introduced beneficiaries and graduates who have found jobs through the trust.

“These occasions insulate us from criticism when we see these young people becoming successful through our fund,” the president said.

“We need young citizens to be empowered to bring change in this country.”

Thousands of people attended the closed event while others watched the proceedings from the outside.

VIPs included cabinet ministers, business people and celebrities.

Groceries, wheelchairs and blankets were given to the needy youth.

siyabulela.dzanibe@inl.co.za

Daily News


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