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There were emotional scenes at Khayelitsha Sports and Recreation Centre in Site C yesterday as families searched through the possessions salvaged from the crash site, including clothing, blankets, suitcases, bags and cellphones.
One woman cried as she picked up a white shirt stained red with blood. Another quietly carried two blood-smeared suitcases out of the hall, using her shirt sleeve to wipe away her tears.
Later, in Worcester, Samuel Zweni and Mcoseleli Hendricks were among the dozens of people going from hospital to hospital trying to determine whether missing relatives were dead or alive.
The two were hoping against hope that doctors would identify Nomtatela Nkalana as one of their patients.
Many of the 24 dead have yet to be identified, and family members were not allowed in to see the bodies yesterday because the forensic investigation was not yet complete.
“Like many people we just don’t know where our loved ones are,” said Zweni.
“I’m scared every time the phone rings that it will be someone calling to let me know that her body has been found. We have gone to all the hospitals we could, but we cannot find her.
“I can’t tell our family in the Transkei what has happened. Every time I see a cellphone number from home my hands tremble when I reach to answer it. All I can tell them is to wait, when their daughter might be dead.”
Zweni and Hendricks were among the relatives who gathered earlier yesterday at the recreation centre in Site C for a prayer meeting and to collect the belongings of their loved ones.
Many victims were members of the 12 Apostles Church in Christ, led by former Western Cape UDM branch leader Dumisani Ximbi. They were returning from a national gathering in Mpumalanga when the accident happened.
Relatives also travelled from the centre to Worcester yesterday, in the hopes of being allowed to view the unidentified bodies in the town’s pathology laboratory.
About 200 people filled the hall.
Xolani Twani said he had not heard from his relatives on the bus since they left Mpumalanga. He was at the hall searching for news about his cousins Nosanele and Zoliswa Tsongo.
He searched through the possessions at the hall but couldn’t find anything that belonged to them.
“We haven’t been able to make contact with them since we heard about the accident. We’ve searched everywhere and no one can tell us anything. The worst part is that no one knows what is going on. They could be dead or alive. We are all devastated,” Twani said.
Western Cape pathology services spokesman Zolani Zenzile said the identification process would begin as soon as post-mortem results were complete.
“At this stage we are still busy, but we hope that the bodies will be ready to be identified by (tomorrow),” he said.
Ximbi said he was disappointed, but understood the constraints.
“It (the delay) was unfortunate, but we understand the circumstances.
“We will continue to hold prayer meetings every night until the date of the funerals. It will be up to the families to decide what kind of funeral will be held,” he said.
He would continue visiting the various hospital to try to identify victims.
Zweni said he, too, would visit some of the hospitals again in the search for his sister, but would otherwise – like everyone else – continue waiting and hoping for goodnews.
“By (tomorrow) we will know, but until then I will be scared to answer my cellphone every time it rings,” he said. - The Weekend Argus