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'The whole community is shattered after horror crash'

Kwa-Zulu Natal
Durban – A rural community of women, who kept the home fires burning while their husbands were away working in the cities, has been decimated.

This is the legacy of the horror crash on Saturday that wiped out 15 women – mothers, aunts, sisters and wives – who lived at Bulwer in the Midlands.

Mbhasobhi Ngwadi was to present umembeso (a traditional meeting where the groom-to-be presents gifts to his future wife’s family). However, this ended in tragedy.

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Nokubonga Mbanjwa Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesFelani Duma Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesJabulile Ngwadi survived the bus crash. She said she came around afterwards surrounded
by the bodies of her relatives. Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesNokukhanya Ngwadi Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesNomthandazo Bhengu Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesNtombifikile Ngwadi Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesThembelihle Dlamini Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesThuleleni Ngwadi Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesJabu Dlamini Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesThe bus that the victims were in rolled down an embankment and overturned on the P-15 road between Kranskop and Nkandla. Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesPicture: Zanele Zulu/ANA PicturesMbhasobhi Ngwadi, the future groom, whose injured sister died in his arms. Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA Pictures

The bus they were travelling in rolled down an embankment and overturned on the P-15 road between Kranskop and Nkandla.

The ceremony was cancelled in the wake of the accident.

Most of the women who lost their lives were mothers of children aged 13 and younger.

They returned to school on Tuesday as it was the first day of the new term, but when they came back home, their mothers were not there.

Although they had been told their mothers had died, the reality had not sunk in as they went about their daily routines of washing their school uniforms outside and hanging them on the washing lines.

Relatives prepared for the arrival of other family members and mourners, who came in and out of the six houses where the accident victims lived.

Heartbroken relatives and neighbours tried to comfort each other.

The distraught cries of the grieving rang out across the neighbourhood, while a group of church members, dressed in white and led by their pastor, moved around comforting each household.

Sindi Gambu, a young bride who stayed with her three children, was among the dead. She took care of the family home while her husband worked in Johannesburg and returned monthly.

Another young wife, Nokubonga Mbanjwa, who lived across the road, was also killed.

Her husband, who works in Durban, returned home as soon as he heard the news. He was away making funeral plans when the media visited yesterday.

An elderly survivor, Jabulile Ngwadi, still in shock, told the media through tears about what she heard just before the bus overturned and rolled down the embankment.

Ngwadi said she was sitting behind the driver who told his co-driver: “I cannot control it (the bus). It’s getting out of control. I can’t do it.”

She said she must have passed out then and the next thing she recalls is being outside the wreck of the bus “and there were bodies everywhere”.

She had cuts to her head and her whole body was bruised.

She was rushed to Ntunjambili Hospital and discharged the same day.

“Just before the accident, everyone was in a jolly mood. We were singing and dancing. We were excited about our bride-to-be,” she said.

Eight other survivors are recovering in different hospitals.

Another relative had a lucky escape when she missed the bus by a few minutes.

She was supposed to catch the ride along the way.

Ngwadi, the future groom, had driven ahead of the bus and had been giving the driver directions over the phone, when he received a call about 6km from their destination, informing him of the accident.

On Tuesday he was still struggling to contain the pain of losing his mother, Fikile Ngwadi, and his two sisters, Nokukhanya Ngwadi and Nomthandazo Bhengu, his aunts Jabu Dlamini, and his cousins Zandile Memela and Thembelihle Dlamini, who was to get married on June 16, four neighbours and a close friend.

His sister, Nokukhanya, died in his arms at the scene.

“The whole community is shattered.

“I cannot imagine how the six affected neighbours who lost mothers are going to pick up the pieces. These women left young children, some who are too young to comprehend the consequences of what happened,” he said.

It was not yet clear if there would be a mass funeral, but most families indicated that they would like to have the funerals on Saturday.

Thembelihle Gumede, Thulisile Ngcobo, Zingulu Hlamukile Dlamini, Bongekile Ngwadi and Zandile Dlamini also died in the crash.

Daily News

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