Families identify victims of Putco crash

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meyerton bus crash INLSA Nineteen bodies lie side by side at the scene of the horrific bus accident that took place on the R59 highway off-ramp near Meyerton. Fifty-three people were seriously injured, while two others were critically injured. Photo: Antoine de Ras

They sat quietly in the dimly lit waiting room, their eyes staring at the floor.

Two families, grieving over the shared loss of loved ones.

“He was everything to our family,” Vuyelwa Mphosi said, breaking the silence and thick tension in the air.

“He never raised his voice… he was so humble,” she continued.

Silence fell over the room.

Minutes earlier, Mphosi had come out of the identity room at the Diepkloof government mortuary where she had positively identified her first-born son, Nkululeko, on Tuesday.

He was in the Putco bus that was travelling from Sebokeng towards Meyerton on the R59 on Monday morning.

He had been on his way to work when the bus overturned at 7.50am, crashing onto the barrier line of a bridge.

Nkululeko was one of 19 people who died as a result of the crash. He was 36.

Nkululeko, a father of four young children, travelled on buses daily.

After Mphosi was alerted to the accident by her younger son, she immediately dialled his number.

“I dialled and dialled his number, but his phone was off,” she said.

“I’m scared to go back home and tell everyone he is gone,” she said, eyes welling with tears as she broke down crying.

“We heard about the accident on Lesedi FM,” Elisa Lemao said, sitting on the opposite end of the room to Mphosi.

On Tuesday, she too positively identified the body of a relative, Martha Moreki, 45, who had been on the bus on her way to her job as a caregiver at an old-age home in Meyerton.

“After I heard the news on radio at about 8am, I started calling her. I called her three times and the phone just rang,”Lemao said.

“I called her mother to tell her what I heard on the radio. She said she had seen it on TV too. We went to Sebokeng Hospital, then to Kopanong (Hospital); she wasn’t there…

“We hired a car to come here this morning and, well, we found her body,” said Lemao, who is from Sebokeng.

Lemao described her niece as a loving and supportive person.

“She loved to cook, and salads – they were her thing! We have really lost… we have really lost,” she added.

By 11.30am, a Putco bus bringing more families arrived at the mortuary.

The families were taken through to the room where bodies could be identified and then brought back to the waiting room.

Here officials from the Road Accident Fund spoke to the family members about assisting with funeral expenses.

Stuart Angus was with his employee of 15 years, Thomas Nkhatha, to support him as he identified his wife Lydia, who had also worked for him as a domestic worker for 12 years.

“Lydia has been with us for so long; she cared for our three children since birth. It’s very sad for us… very, very sad,” said Angus.

Forensic pathologists are hoping the 10 identity documents, six cellphones and dozens of ladies’ handbags that were recovered from the bus, will help them identify more bodies.

By Tuesday afternoon, 12 bodies had been identified.

Meanwhile, Minister of Transport Ben Martins has called on the authorities to investigate all possible reasons that could have led to the crash.

“No effort should be spared in determining the cause of this horrific incident,” Martins said.

“Road-traffic-management authorities must leave no stone unturned in their probe,” he added.

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