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Durban - As details of the Reed Dance bus crash tragedy unfolded on Monday, it was revealed that one South Coast family lost two daughters, while another lost two adult sisters, who were minders, and their young niece.
The high cost of the accident for the small South Coast community of Mzumbe was only beginning to be felt as relatives travelled to Zululand to identify the bodies of their loved ones.
Education spokesman Sihle Mlotshwa said that, so far, the department knew that the chairman, deputy chairman and the daughter of the school governing body chairman of Malikhakha Primary had all died.
Three girls from Baphumile Primary, Imvuthuluka High and Bhekamandelu High School were among the dead.
King Goodwill Zwelithini’s spokesman said the monarch was devastated.
Prince Thulani Zulu said that the king had been preparing for another reed dance in Ngwavuma in Maputaland next week.
“He has since cancelled that ceremony. I have never seen such an incident in my life,” said Zulu.
The Presidency, the ANC and opposition parties all extended their condolences to the bereaved families.
On Monday, talking to the parents of the victims was impossible because they were inconsolable.
Some broke down as journalists tried to speak to them.
Mehlokazulu Msomi lost two sisters, Nomusa Miyende and Mesu Msomu, who were supervising maidens from the South Coast, and his 21-year-old niece, Nokwanda.
“My sisters conducted virginity testing and had taken girls to the reed dance for years. They had a passion for making sure that girls did not engage in sex before marriage. My niece was very proud of being virgin. She was studying computers,” he said.
The man who lost both his daughters would not speak.
KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Senzo Mchunu issued a statement saying: “
Such occurrences are a reminder to all of us to always thank our Creator for His grace.”
President Jacob Zuma said his heart went out to King Zwelithini, the bereaved and the community.
The ANC’s Sihle Zikalala urged authorities to “thoroughly investigate” whether the bus was unroadworthy or overloaded, saying the ruling party was concerned about the number of accidents involving public transport.
KZN Transport MEC Willies Mchunu met the grieving families in Eshowe to determine how the government could assist them.
The DA leader in the KZN legislature, Sizwe Mchunu, said
: “This tragedy must be fully probed and the outcome made available to the family of the deceased in a bid to help them find closure in the difficult weeks that lie ahead.”