Pupil killed in school bus crash
WHEN a choir rendition of Amazing Grace echoed through the chapel at Michaelhouse on Friday, loved ones of Themba Dloti wiped away their tears to mourn the passing of the 16-year-old pupil.
Themba was the only fatality when a tyre burst and caused a hired school bus to overturn. Forty-seven others were injured.
The schoolboys were on their way to Kearsney College for a soccer match. The accident happened on the N3 near Pietermaritzburg. Nine schoolboys and a teacher are still in various hospitals in the Midlands.
The chapel at the prestigious Midlands private school overflowed with hundreds of Michaelhouse boys, their parents and members of the public, who converged to honour Themba, who was known as ‘Big T’ to friends.
Themba’s father, Thabo Dloti, the former chief executive of the Liberty Holdings Group, said the youngster had strong opinions and stood up for what he believed in.
“Coming to Michaelhouse was a big deal for him,” said Dloti. “The best way to remember Themba is to talk about the things he loved.”
One of these was Michaelhouse itself, he said, referring to it as Themba’s extended family.
Reminiscing on his son’s life, Dloti said: “He would charm his way into the hearts of all with his warm smile and energy.”
The Dloti family was surrounded by those offering condolences, while in the school quadrant Michaelhouse boys, and girls from various neighbouring schools, stood in a circle and held each other while sombrely singing the national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
One of Themba’s teammates said about the accident: “It happened in five seconds.”He himself escaped with minor injuries.
Many of the schoolboys were in a sombre mood, with many crying during and after the memorial service.
Themba’s uncle, Kabelo Dloti, said Themba had an ability to connect with people.
“We have a large family, but he always found a moment to connect with you,” he said.
Kabelo, however, said to prevent social media breaking the news to some family members, many were alerted by phone.
“The news spread within a split second. I had to tell my wife what had happened over the phone because I knew what would happen if I didn’t tell her immediately,” he said.
“There are still many questions about what happened and how it happened but we are not at the stage where we can get formal answers, now we still trying to deal with the reality of a burial,” he said.
Themba will be buried in Midrand on Tuesday, where a wall of remembrance will be erected at the funeral to share the messages of support to the family on Themba’s passing.
Michaelhouse rector, Greg Theron, said the boys are still emotionally recovering and have relied on their strong brotherhood.
“The magnitude of the accident has affected them and they’re also upset over what might have been,” he said.
In a statement, Maharaj’s Coaches, the Pieter maritzburg-based bus service which was ferrying the boys to Hillcrest, said the accident was the first of its kind in their long association with schools in the Midlands.
“The vehicle was well-maintained and the driver highly experienced,” the statement read.