Min­is­ter vows to get to bot­tom of light mast tragedy


NEWLY ap­pointed En­ergy Min­is­ter David Mahlobo was greeted by tear­ful women sit­ting on blan­kets in a dark room with only a flick­er­ing can­dle mourn­ing the loss of their chil­dren.

Mahlobo yes­ter­day vis­ited the scene of the tragedy in Soshanguve, Block X, where five chil­dren died when a tall light-mast fell on them while they were playing.

At each of the five houses Mahlobo had a pri­vate dis­cus­sion with the be­reaved and the me­dia was asked to leave.

Seven chil­dren were playing un­der the van­dalised light struc­ture on Satur­day when the bulbs dis­lodged and came crash­ing down on them. Four died on the scene and the fifth died later in hos­pi­tal. Two more chil­dren were se­ri­ously in­jured and are re­cov­er­ing in hos­pi­tal.

The chil­dren were aged be­tween six and 12 years old.

The com­mu­nity blamed thieves for dis­man­tling the ca­bles, re­sult­ing in the bulbs fall­ing.

Mahlobo, ac­com­pa­nied by Gaut­eng MEC for In­fra­struc­ture Ja­cob Mam­abolo, was first greeted by a wreath lay­ing YES­TER­DAY saw a mas­sive out­pour­ing of pub­lic sup­port to as­sist au­thor of

Jacques Pauw, fi­nan­cially should he be ar­rested by the State Se­cu­rity Agency (SSA), with the book pub­lisher, NB Pub­lish­ers, is­su­ing a state­ment last night thank­ing the pub­lic for “their in­tense con­cern”.

Sales of the book which in­clude shock­ing al­le­ga­tions of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and cor­rup­tion against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma have rock­eted.

On Thurs­day, the SSA con­firmed that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der with can­dles at the bot­tom of the over­head light where the in­ci­dent hap­pened.

The tragedy last Satur­day af­ter­noon ap­peared to have been caused by tam­per­ing with ca­bles, pos­si­bly with crim­i­nal in­tent.

Mahlobo said: “It’s al­ways sad when par­ents have to bury their off­spring, es­pe­cially at such a ten­der age.

“The fam­i­lies’ loss also im­pacts on us be­cause these young chil­dren could have been fu­ture lead­ers in the coun­try, but their lives were cut short,” Mahlobo said.

“It is un­for­tu­nate that this van­dal­isa- tion of elec­tric­ity wires has ter­mi­nated the lives of in­no­cent souls,” he added.

Mahlobo said, be­sides con­vey­ing their con­do­lences to the be­reaved, an­other rea­son for their visit was to see the scene for them­selves and in­spect the area which had been in­un­dated with faulty street lights.

“We might not be hard­core en­gi­neers but we could see that they might have been some­thing wrong there.

“There might be is­sues of van­dal­ism, is­sue of main­te­nance and it’s a dis­cus­sion that we will have with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to make the area safer,” he added.

Mam­abolo ex­pressed con­cern about the poor elec­tric­ity in­fra­struc­ture and said more needed to be done by the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers to en­sure such a tragedy didn’t oc­cur again.

Mam­abolo also said the only way that the fam­i­lies would get proper clo­sure was from the report of the in­ci­dent.

“The truth is the only thing that will set the fam­i­lies free and give them clo­sure. The truth will also help rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers to bet­ter pre­pare and pre­vent it hap­pen­ing again,” he said.

Asked what would be done in the in­terim for the com­mu­nity’s safety while the report was com­piled, Mam­abolo said a thor­ough dis­cus­sion with the City of Tsh­wane was needed to dis­cuss the lo­gis­tics.

There was also a heavy po­lice pres­ence in the area yes­ter­day.

This af­ter Tsh­wane mayor Solly Msi­manga was chased away by the com­mu­nity dur­ing the week when he tried to meet the fam­i­lies.

Msi­manga couldn’t step out of his car as an an­gry group threat­ened to throw stones at him, and had to aban­don his visit. Tsh­wane will pay for the mass funeral to be held to­day.

En­ergy Min­is­ter David Mahlobo and Gaut­eng MEC for In­fra­struc­ture Ja­cob Mam­abolo visit the site of the light mast tragedy where five chil­dren died.

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