Cape Town - Barely two weeks into the school year and tragedy has already struck with a Grade 1 learner being run over while waiting for his school transport.
Six-year-old Arkash Okwan Mpayipheli, from Langa, took his last breath just outside the gates of Wespoort Primary in Mitchells Plain, while waiting for the scholar transport to take him home.
According to a witness, the driver waited opposite the school and hooted for the child to come over.
The boy then ran across the road and that’s when tragedy struck. Arkash collapsed on the pavement and died on the scene.
The school has since asked for privacy while they prepare to inform the rest of Arkash’s classmates about his death.
School principal Malika Ismail-Meyer, in a letter, expressed her sympathy to the family and added that the school community was devastated.
“We are a school and community in mourning. We ask that no false information be spread regarding the incident and we ask that you please respect the family and stop circulating videos and images on social media.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family during this difficult time and we pray that the Almighty places peace and contentment in the hearts of his family members affected by this great loss,” she said.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm Pojie, confirming the incident, said: “Mitchell’s Plain police opened a culpable homicide docket for further investigation following an incident which claimed the life of a 6-year-old boy at about 3pm on Thursday at Merrydale Street, opposite Westpoort Primary School in Portlands, Mitchells Plain.
“Preliminary information suggests that the child was hit by a vehicle, driven by a 58-year-old female. The boy collapsed and succumbed to internal injuries. The circumstances around the incident are under investigation.”
Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department had deployed psychologists to the school to assist with counselling.
“The WCED sends its condolences to the family, friends and the school community. “This is a tragic and sad incident,” Hammond said.
This is the second time tragedy struck for the school. Last year, the school also mourned the loss of seven-year-old Katlego Banga, who was also involved in a horrific accident along AZ Berman Drive.
The Grade 2 learner was among six children from Khayelitsha who was flung out of a Toyota Hilux bakkie when driver Mninikhaya Mvuli allegedly lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a tree and robot.
The accident put the spotlight on scholar transport, causing a huge outcry for stricter measures to be taken against drivers, especially those without permits to transport learners.
Just last week with the opening of schools, Western Cape MEC of Mobility, Ricardo Mackenzie, reiterated the importance of operating licences, vehicle and driver fitness.
He had joined Western Cape traffic officers and the Provincial Regulatory Entity and City officials on a scholar transport enforcement operation.