Pupil killed in school bus crash

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS -

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.

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