At least nine people lost their lives on KwaZulu-Natal roads on Sunday, with one incident being a devastating head-on collision between a car and two motor bikes on the M4 near eMdloti in which five members of a La Mercy family were killed.
Two other incidents were reported on the same day.
Harry Naiker, 66, his daughter Veni Roopnarain, 42, grandchildren Ashlin, 22, and Criselda, 19, and four-year-old Jodash Naiker, died as they were returning home from a cemetery where they had been to lay flowers on a family member’s grave.
The two bikers who collided with the family’s car were also killed.
Police said they were identified as a Mr Viljoen and John Clive.
Mercury reporters were greeted with open arms when they visited the Roopnarain and Naiker family on Sunday night.
Rallying together for support, the family said the world had lost five amazing people.
Family spokesman Pastor Charles Ramiah said they were in shock.
He said the hardest part was to tell Harry’s ill wife that she had lost her husband and daughter.
“Silvie, 62, is suffering with cancer and is very unwell. Her doctor broke the news to her and her condition is being closely monitored,” he said.
Shilona, who lost her son Jodash, braved sitting at the table, her eyes swollen from crying.
She could not talk, and burst into tears when calls of condolences came through.
Jodash’s elder brother, still too young to comprehend what had happened, spoke cheerfully of his brother.
Harry was described as a caring man who dedicated his life to taking care of his wife.
Veni was fun-loving, responsible and dedicated to her two children.
She lost her husband two years ago in an accident, and it was his grave the deceased family members had visited on Father’s Day.
Ashlin had been accepted to study for a Master’s degree in information technology, and Criselda was studying accounting.
“Both kids were very bright and had strong family values,” said Ramiah.
Nivan Thavalal was the first family member on the scene and described how he watched the car’s flames being doused.
He said he could not believe what he saw, and remained at the scene until the bodies were removed, the emotional strain evident in his eyes.
Ramiah said the family were members of the La Mercy Christian Fellowship and were well known in the community.
Huey Naicker, Criselda’s boyfriend, was distraught when The Mercury spoke to him on Sunday night.
“She was the best person in the world. She was kind, supportive and caring, and we had long-term plans for marriage,” he said.
Witnesses said the two bikes were overtaking a vehicle on a sharp bend when they collided with the Toyota Corolla, which burst into flames.
KZN Transport spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said the area where the collision occurred was marked with signs warning it was a high accident risk area.
“The warnings are there to caution motorists to be extra careful, but people ignore them” he said.
The family will have two funeral services at their La Mercy home on Monday and Tuesday evening, and the funerals of the five family members who died will take place at the Bethsaida International Ministries, Clayfield, Phoenix, on Wednesday.
A 42-year-old man was also killed after his vehicle overturned on the N2 north close to the Sibaya offramp on Sunday evening.
Botha said the vehicle had overturned several times before coming top rest on its roof. The man died before paramedics arrived. - The Mercury