Schoolboy killed by street sign
Durban - A Lesotho school’s week-long educational tour of Durban turned tragic on Thursday when a pupil’s face was severed by a street sign as the children’s bus went by.
According to witnesses, the boy, 16, looked out of the bus window to see what it had hit a few seconds before in the narrow Dick King Street in the CBD, which runs between Dr Pixley KaSeme (West) and Anton Lembede (Smith) streets.
His identity has not been released yet.
The teen was part of a group of 106 pupils from Molapo High School in Lesotho’s Leribe district.
A security guard, who asked not to be identified, had been stationed outside a car dealership on the corner of Dick King and Dr Pixley KaSeme streets.
He said the bus was driven at “high speed” and it collided with a street sign.
“It first hit this sign; everybody was still inside the bus. The boy then peeked his head out the window – he was sitting near the back – to see what was happening and before he knew it, he was struck by the sign on the second pole,” he said.
Bongani Dlamini saw events unfold from Anton Lembede Street.
“I think the bus was trying to avoid hitting the side mirrors of a car parked on the side of the road, but then it drifted closer to the pole.
“At that moment, the child peeped out the window and looked behind him (to see the sign the bus had struck) and by the time he looked where the bus was heading, it was too late to draw his head back in,” he said in a quivering voice.
Everyone was crying, the teachers, the pupils; it was hectic.”
He said he had struggled to regain his composure.
“I wanted to help, but I couldn’t. He was still breathing – blood still gushing – when I got to him. But there was absolutely nothing I could do for him.”
He said it appeared as if the driver was not initially aware of the drama that was unfolding, as “he only stopped when frantic teachers alerted him”.
“It hurts to see such a thing happen, especially for me as a parent.”
The impact on both poles caused the signs to shift direction and a street light to break off.
Molapo High School’s grief-stricken deputy principal Kabelo Maqache said the group had planned to leave Durban on Thursday after spending four days in the city.
The school had been staying at the D’Urban Hotel near South Beach.
He said: “We usually come here in groups. The pupils are very traumatised. One of them has been admitted to hospital and some of them have been taken to get counselling.”
On their way home, he said, the school would usually stop at Springfield Park and then at a zoo near Pietermaritzburg.
KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Services spokesman Robert McKenzie said: “Emergency services, including KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services paramedics, responded to the scene and found that the boy had died.
“KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Services paramedics treated another child who had been an occupant on the bus, but details of this child’s injuries and condition are not immediately clear at the time of this report.”
Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said the Point SAPS had opened an inquest docket. He said no one had been arrested.
At the scene, however, a man believed to be the driver of the bus was secured with cable ties and taken away in a police van.
Police cordoned off the scene and covered the body with an emergency blanket before it was removed by a mortuary van.
Shocked onlookers stared as police conducted their work at the scene.
Maqache and two males, believed to be colleagues from the school, moved on and off the bus, securing and removing luggage.