Prayers for 25 crash victims
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It has been two years since the fatal taxi accident at a Blackheath level crossing claimed the lives of 10 children.
And yesterday families of the Blackheath victims travelled to the southern Cape town of Rheenendal for a joint commemoration service with the families of 14 other pupils and a bus driver who died a year ago in a similar accident.
The Blackheath children’s taxi driver, Jacob Humphreys, was sentenced to 20 years’ prison in December on 10 counts of murder and four of attempted murder, after his vehicle collided with a train.
Yesterday the Rheenendal residents were marking the first anniversary of the bus accident which claimed 15 lives when the school bus plunged into a river outside Knysna. This weekend has been declared a two-day memorial weekend.
The 32-seater bus was transporting 58 Rheenendal Primary School pupils to school when the tragedy occurred.
Organiser Allan Kock said a commemoration service was held at the primary school yesterday morning, while families visited the cemetery for a prayer service at noon.
“Family members spent the afternoon beautifying the graves of all the victims after which a formal wreath-laying ceremony and candlelight service was held at the accident site,” she said.
Several local community leaders and speakers also paid tribute to the victims during a remembrance service held at the Rheenendal community centre last night.
Kock said the parents of the victims were still coming to terms with their loss.
“They are still waiting for justice. Someone must be held accountable. People complained prior to the accident and their questions have been left unanswered,” he said.
Last month the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced that there was not enough evidence to prosecute at this stage.
Magnus de Jongh, who delivered a speech on behalf of ANC provincial chairman Marius Fransman and the Save our Schools (SOS) campaign, said it was clear that after a year the pain and memories were still fresh for the parents and the community.
“To the parents and loved ones who are still battling to come to terms with their loss, we pray that God will comfort them,” he said.
De Jongh called on the provincial government to make the findings of the crash investigation public.
“The true cause of this tragedy must be revealed. The parents and the community have a right to know.”
Meanwhile, education MEC Donald Grant said the Rheenendal accident would be “forever in our memories”.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of those that lost their lives.”
On the issue of pupil transport, Grant said his department, together with other authorities, must ensure that they prevent similar accidents from occurring.
“The Western Cape government is committed to improving the safety of all learners who rely on transport arranged by the WCED to get to and from school,” he said.