Minister saddened by pupils’ deaths

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Copy of ND MOOIRIVER 6 (41885351) DAILY NEWS Amanda Khanyiles body was recovered eight hours after the crash. Rescuers wrapped her tiny body in white plastic before hauling it out of the river. Picture: Marilyn Bernard

Durban - The deaths of five children in a bakkie accident in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands was an unnecessary loss of young potential, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Tuesday.

“Our hearts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones, and we wish those in hospital a speedy recovery,” she said in a statement.

On Monday, the bakkie, carrying 29 schoolchildren, plunged into a farm sludge dam in Rietvlei.

Five children were killed. The driver would appear in the Greytown Magistrate's Court on Wednesday to face charges of murder, attempted murder, and reckless or negligent driving.

KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC Willies Mchunu conveyed his condolences in a statement on Tuesday.

His office named those killed as Nokwazi Phungula, Sindiswa Bhengu, both 12, Amanda Khanyile, seven, Lindo Mayekiso, seven, and Phumlani Shelembe, 18.

They were pupils at the Senzokuhle Combined School in Nyamvubu, Rietvlei.

Motshekga's office said the provincial education department, led by MEC Peggy Nkonyeni visited the children recovering in hospital and would continue to support the families of those killed.

Mchunu met the bereaved parents and told them government would consider introducing a policy to prohibit school pupils being transported in bakkies to prevent further accidents.

“We will conduct an audit of all schools and identify learners who depend on the use of bakkies for transport so we can prioritise them for our free scholar transport programme,” Mchunu said.

While there was already scholar transport in the area, Mchunu said more was needed. The provincial transport department appointed a team of forensic experts to investigate the accident.

The families would receive help with funeral arrangements from the department and the Road Accident Fund.


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