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.

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