Tributes continue to pour in for fatal accident victims

Published Jul 11, 2024


Tributes continue to pour in following the tragic deaths of 12 learners and a transport driver on Wednesday.

The occupants died after their vehicle was hit from behind by a bakkie in the Kokosi-Wedela area in the Merafong Local Municipality.

A total of 11 learners from Rocklands Primary School and one learner from Laerskool Blyvooruitsig lost their lives while travelling in their scholar transport vehicle, which was burned beyond recognition.

The shocking accident also claimed four children from the same family. Seven other learners were rushed to hospital for medical attention.

Authorities confirmed that the vehicle was a Siyaya taxi and it was overloaded, which is a criminal act in South Africa.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi and MEC for Education, Sport, Arts, Culture & Recreation Matome Chiloane visited the scene and the survivors in hospitals.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said he is deeply saddened by the deaths. He offered his condolences to the families, friends, fellow learners and educators of the deceased children.

Ramaphosa also wished a speedy and full recovery to the survivors.

“The loss of such young lives at the start of a new school term touches all of us as a nation. We wish the affected families and school communities the best as they mourn the passing of children who have been deprived of fulfilling their potential and spending their lives with families and friends.

“This tragedy, which regretfully is not the first of its kind to confront us, demands that we exercise our obligation to protect our children with the utmost care,” said Ramaphosa.

In the wake of the accident, the DA in Gauteng urged Chiloane to promptly review the current scholar transport policy, which the party said has failed to adequately serve the learners in the province, leading to numerous fatal car accidents involving learners.

DA Gauteng Shadow for Education, Sergio Isa Dos Santos MPL, said the party calls on the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) to work together with the investigative authorities to determine the facts surrounding the tragedy and bring the case to a conclusion as the families of these pupils deserve to know what occurred and if it might have been avoided.

“As part of our unwavering dedication to securing the future of Gauteng’s children through quality education, we will closely monitor the investigation of this incident and relentlessly pursue the establishment of a reviewed scholar transport policy that not only saves lives but also paves the way for a brighter future for our children,” said Isa Dos Santos.

Basic Education Minister Siviwe Gwarube also sent her condolences to the families, friends and schooling community.

“The loss of loved ones is never easy; the loss is markedly acute when it is our children that we have to bury. We offer our heartfelt sympathies to the parents of the children; we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers, hoping that healing and grace locate you. We also wish the learners who were hurt in the accident a full and speedy recovery,” said Gwarube.

Gwarube is in contact with Chiloane to be kept abreast of updates on this matter.

Transport Minister Barbara Creecy and Deputy Transport Minister Mkhuleko Hlengwa joined in in sending their heartfelt condolences.

The department dispatched a team of investigators from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) to the crash scene to determine the cause of the accident.

Speaking at the South African Transport Conference at the CSIR earlier this week, Creecy indicated that road safety will receive priority attention in the seventh administration.

Meanwhile, Chiloane switched on the 2025 Online Admissions System on Thursday at Diepsloot Youth Centre for parents and guardians to apply for their children going to Grade 1 and/or Grade 8 at Gauteng public schools in the 2025 academic year.

Diepsloot Youth Centre will serve as one of 80 decentralised walk-in centres in Gauteng where parents and guardians who do not have access to the internet or necessary resources can do their applications. Chiloane assisted parents present at the centre to apply.

The Star

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