Johannesburg - When the M1 bridge collapsed two years ago, not only did it take the life of taxi driver Siyabonga Myeni, but it also split his family.
Lobola negotiations between his family and that of his fiancée in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, which were meant to be concluded in December 2015, two months after his death, had to be called off.
Myeni’s family in KwaNongoma also last saw his two children raised by their mothers in Johannesburg on the day of his funeral.
Myeni was one of two people killed when the pedestrian bridge near Sandton’s Grayston Drive off-ramp collapsed as he was travelling from Sunninghill to Johannesburg. Myeni, 25, died on the scene. His body was found under the metal rubble.
Adrian Doodnath, a Chatsworth, KwaZulu-Natal man who was visiting relatives, died after the scaffolding fell on his car.
Myeni’s death put his family in a difficult financial position, if not on the brink of total collapse.
At the time of his death, he had been supporting his four children, three siblings and his grandmother, who is now raising two of his children, aged four and five, in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Life has been very tough without him. I don’t know how we managed to pull through in the past two years,” said Myeni’s younger brother, Lindani.
Only one of Myeni’s three siblings is employed, while their grandmother lives off her R1600 old age grant which covers groceries, school transport and other basic necessities.
“I wish media photographers can come here and see our situation for themselves.
“There is not enough food for my brother’s children to pack for school lunch and so we end up relying on school nutrition to provide for them during the day.
“My brother worked full-time as a taxi operator and he was able to provide for everybody. He might have not been educated, but he was a smart man,” said Lindani.
Myeni came to seek a better future in Joburg when he was a young boy. He did not have a family in the City of Gold but managed to make friends with people who linked him up with others in the taxi industry.
“He started off washing taxis at Bree Taxi Rank when he was around 15 years old. He did this job until he managed to get himself his driver’s licence and then he started driving taxis before he turned 20. He was a survivor,” Lindani said.
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He said his brother’s death had caused a lot of tension between the family and the mothers of his children. The family has lost contact with the mothers of his two children who live in Joburg.
“We last saw them on the day of the funeral and never heard from them again. We tried to make contact but we can’t find them.
“Even the woman he was about to be married to has since vanished and we don’t even consider her our makoti (daughter in-law).
“The other woman from Pietermaritzburg dumped her child with granny and we don’t hear from her,” said Lindani.
The family’s hopes are pinned on the R8 million that its lawyers are said to be claiming from the state for the accident.
Myeni’s grandmother is due in Joburg next month to sign legal papers. The family is in the dark about the proceedings of the inquiry that is investigating the cause of the accident.
“At this stage, we are not trusting anybody, including the government. Many promises had been made in the past,” said Lindani.