Machadodorp - Mpumalanga community safety MEC Pat Ngomane on Saturday urged people and organisations to refrain from using funerals as platforms to score political points.
Ngomane was speaking in Machadodorp during the mass funeral of six of the 18 people who died in a collision between two minibus taxis and a truck on Tuesday. He said the African National Congress-led government would always assist people to bury their loved ones and encouraged other political parties to do the same.
“We don’t do this because we want votes. Let us not politicise death. Let us work together to build the nation,” said Ngomane. All political parties, including the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters were welcome at any funerals.
The crash occurred on the R541 between Badplaas and Machadodorp when two minibus taxis and a truck collided. At least 17 other people were injured. The two taxis were transporting mineworkers to work at Franki Afrika.
During a memorial service held at the same venue on Friday, the families of the victims voiced their concerns over a lack of ambulance services in Machadodorp. The families’ representative Simphiwe Jele told mourners the lives of some of those who died could have been saved if ambulances had arrived timeously at the scene.
The Emakhazeni local municipality had moved the ambulances from the Emthonjeni Clinic to Waterval Boven, about 19km away, in 2007. Jele appealed to Emakhazeni mayor Sydney Ngwenya to bring back the ambulances.
Ngomane on Saturday told mourners his department and other local government structures had listened to the concerns of the families. “We spoke to the mayor and agreed that those ambulances must come back quickly. Those who said they must come back were right,” said Ngomane.
Speaking during the same service, Road Accident Fund (RAF) Mpumalanga claims manager Busisiwe Slaffa called on people to drive safely. “We know RAF cannot bring back those who died, but we will surely assist the bereaved families and those who were injured,” said Slaffa.
The service was held inside a marquee erected at a local stadium and the people who died were buried at a local cemetery. A group of about 10 men and women wore clothes branded with Mamelodi Sundowns football club colours outside the marquee, while three club flags were hung on the goalposts on the pitch.
Sundowns supporter Dumisa Mnisi told the African News Agency (ANA) that they came to the funeral from the Belfast and Middelburg branches of the Sundowns supporters club to console the family of their fellow supporter Lawrence Thela who died in the accident.
“It’s painful to loose Lawrence. He was a nice person to us. Sundowns are not only about football, but we also take care of each other’s families,” said Mnisi.
African News Agency