Distress after schoolgirls die in overloaded transport
IT HAS emerged that the two learners who died in a horrific crash were passengers in an overloaded school transport vehicle.
Ekurhuleni MMC for Community Safety Phaladi Mmoko revealed that the scholar transport was a 16-seater vehicle transporting 21 learners when it was involved in an accident with a motorcycle in Olifantsfontein yesterday morning.
The motorcyclist died in the accident as well.
Mmoko, who was at the scene, said according to the preliminary report, the motorcycle was on the M57 and the minibus was making a turn to Moonlight Road to Madibatlou Middle School when the collision happened.
“We are all devastated.We need to reach out to the traffic department to see if we can get traffic calming measures such as traffic lights and engage in a social dialogue with service providers regarding overloading.
“A meeting is scheduled,” Mmoko told reporters.
The Education Department said the latest incident brought the death toll of learners to 16, with four teachers, this year alone.
Eyewitnesses said a rider collided with the 16-seater school transport, resulting in the death of the motorcyclist and two young girls.
Eighteen pupils and the driver sustained minor injuries.
One teacher collapsed on hearing about the deaths and was assisted by emergency workers at the school.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi went to the school and Tembisa Hospital yesterday.
He addressed the children and teachers.
He also walked around the hospital, from the casualty ward to the X-ray section to check on the injured.
The MEC wished them a speedy recovery and reassured them that they wouldn’t fall behind at school.
He also comforted the parents of traumatised pupils at the hospital.
A devastated Lesufi said he had run out of words and did not know what to say.
“The most difficult time is when I have to explain to the parents.
“They expect you to perform miracles and say it’s not true and confirming that it’s true is very emotional,” he said.
Lesufi thanked the Ekurhuleni community and emergency team for responding with urgency in assisting the learners at the scene.
“The emergency team ensured that the learners received all the medical attention needed and were able to provide counselling to the families of the deceased before sending them to the hospital,” he said.
A shocked Gloria Moagi, parent of injured Grade 3 learner Phetulo Moagi, said: “I am still in shock but take comfort that my child is safe. What happened today was sad and I feel for the parents of the kids who died.”
Panyaza said he was aware of concerns about private scholar transport in terms of the legislature, however, the policy was done by the Department of Transport.
“The driver must register the number of children he transports so that he can be given a permit, so that we are in a position to control these things.
“I spoke to the MEC of transport and he will be in a position to assist in this matter,” he said.
Lesufi said this was not the first time Madibatlou Middle School faced the tragedy of losing a learner.
“A learner passed on last month but we just need to give them support as a sector.
“With today’s losses the body count has come to 20 just between a month, which is too much,” the education MEC said.