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Johannesburg - A man who invited his Facebook friends to a celebration party to mark the deaths of 42 white children in the Westdene Dam disaster almost 28 years ago has withdrawn the invitation and apologised for the online post.
The half-sister of one of the children who died in the incident said this morning that she was pleased that he had done so.
Last week Zama Khumalo invited his friends on Facebook to a “Big Black Braai” to celebrate the Westdene Dam disaster.
Katherine Shaddock was shocked when she found out about it.
She lost her half-sister, Mary-Ann Miles, in the tragedy when a school bus plunged into the dam in March 1985.
He had also added 24 names of the children who had died, commenting that their deaths were “much appreciated my Lord”.
Underneath this post he said: “We will always celebrate the death of a whiteness (sic).”
Shaddock said: “These kids were innocent, how could he have written that?”
Khumalo has since deleted these messages and has written a post called “MY WESTDENE DAM APOLOGY” on Facebook.
“I have taken time to consider and reflect on the (Westdene) Facebook post that I made earlier this week, including the comments contained in it. The matter has been such a huge personal pressure on my part that I received inbox threats.
“I heartily apologise and deeply regret the post, and the pains that I have caused to the parties touched. I’M SORRY,” he wrote.
Shaddock said she was happy with the apology and hoped this would help him change his behaviour. “I’m just pleased that he apologised. I hope that he has now seen the error of his ways.”
Despite what Khumalo had said, Shaddock said she felt for him.
“If he is getting threats I feel deeply sorry for this individual.”
She also said she was pleased that Mary-Ann’s mother, who died recently, didn’t see the post. “Not a day went by that she didn’t think of her daughter. I’m so glad she didn’t see that,” said Shaddock.
Some of Khumalo’s friends supported his apology, while others criticised him.
“Don’t lie. You want all the whites dead. Wouldn’t trust someone who is happy that other people die. That’s evil. And God would never support someone that evil. You must love Satan,” said Tsepo Okeke underneath the post. Okeke is listed as one of Khumalo’s friends.
Khumalo quotes himself twice on the “about” section of his page, one of which reads: “One thing I know about the pain of loving someone is that it is an addictive feeling that lives and never leaves you. You can never replace a human being.”
He also quotes prominent figures such as Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Eugene de Kock and Eminem. His page also claims that he works for the Daily Sun newspaper but this is untrue, says the paper’s publisher, Jeremy Gordin.
“He did (work at the paper), but not any more,” he said on Wednesday morning.
Khumalo could not be reached for comment on Wednesday morning.