Fam­ily of young taxi driver was left des­ti­tute

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - LINDILE SIFILE lindile.sifile@inl.co.za @lindile­si­file

WHEN the M1 bridge col­lapsed two years ago, not only did it take the life of taxi driver Siyabonga Myeni, but it also split his fam­ily.

Lobola ne­go­ti­a­tions between his fam­ily and that of his fi­ancée in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, which were meant to be con­cluded in De­cem­ber 2015, two months af­ter his death, had to be called off.

Myeni’s fam­ily in KwaNon­goma also last saw his two chil­dren raised by their moth­ers in Jo­han­nes­burg on the day of his funeral.

Myeni was one of two peo­ple killed when the pedes­trian bridge near Sand­ton’s Grayston Drive of­framp col­lapsed as he was trav­el­ling from Sun­ninghill to Jo­han­nes­burg. Myeni, 25, died on the scene. His body was found un­der the metal rub­ble.

Adrian Dood­nath, a Chatsworth, KwaZulu-Natal man who was vis­it­ing rel­a­tives, died af­ter the scaf­fold­ing fell on his car.

Myeni’s death put his fam­ily in a dif­fi­cult fi­nan­cial po­si­tion, if not on the brink of to­tal col­lapse.

At the time of his death, he had been sup­port­ing his four chil­dren, three sib­lings and his grand­mother, who is now rais­ing two of his chil­dren, aged four and five, in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Life has been very tough with­out him. I don’t know how we man­aged to pull through in the past two years,” said Myeni’s younger brother, Lin­dani.

Only one of Myeni’s three sib­lings is em­ployed, while their grand­mother lives off her R1 600 old age grant which cov­ers gro­ceries, school trans­port and other ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties.

“I wish me­dia pho­tog­ra­phers can come here and see our sit­u­a­tion for them­selves.

“There is not enough food for my brother’s chil­dren to pack for school lunch and so we end up re­ly­ing on school nu­tri­tion to pro­vide for them dur­ing the day.

“My brother worked full-time as a taxi op­er­a­tor and he was able to pro­vide for ev­ery­body. He might have not been ed­u­cated, but he was a smart man,” said Lin­dani.

Myeni came to seek a bet­ter fu­ture in Joburg when he was a young boy. He did not have a fam­ily in the City of Gold but man­aged to make friends with peo­ple who linked him up with oth­ers in the taxi in­dus­try.

“He started off wash­ing taxis at Bree Taxi Rank when he was around 15 years old. He did this job un­til he man­aged to get him­self his driver’s li­cence and then he started driv­ing taxis be­fore he turned 20. He was a sur­vivor,” Lin­dani said.

He said his brother’s death had caused a lot of ten­sion between the fam­ily and the moth­ers of his chil­dren. The fam­ily has lost con­tact with the moth­ers of his two chil­dren who live in Joburg.

“We last saw them on the day of the funeral and never heard from them again. We tried to make con­tact but we can’t find them.

“Even the wo­man he was about to be mar­ried to has since van­ished and we don’t even con­sider her our makoti (daugh­ter in-law).

“The other wo­man from Pi­eter­mar­itzburg dumped her child with granny and we don’t hear from her,” said Lin­dani.

The fam­ily’s hopes are pinned on the R8 mil­lion that its lawyers are said to be claim­ing from the state for the ac­ci­dent.

Myeni’s grand­mother is due in Joburg next month to sign le­gal pa­pers. The fam­ily is in the dark about the pro­ceed­ings of the in­quiry that is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cause of the ac­ci­dent.

“At this stage, we are not trust­ing any­body, in­clud­ing the govern­ment. Many prom­ises had been made in the past,” said Lin­dani.

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