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Riebeeckstad bus accident could’ve been avoided, say parents – VIDEO, PHOTOS

───   KEKELETSO MOSEBETSI 14:24 Wed, 07 Feb 2024

Riebeeckstad bus accident could’ve been avoided, say parents – VIDEO, PHOTOS | News Article
The bus accident scene between Senekal and Ventersburg. Photo: Facebook

“Former students claimed that the bus had been problematic even ten years ago.”

Distressed parents of the learners involved in the Riebeeckstad Secondary School's bus accident in the Free State believe the tragedy could have been avoided.

A parent of Riebeeckstad Secondary School, whose daughter was injured in the devastating incident between Senekal and Ventersburg, told OFM News the same group of grade 8 learners were left on the side of the road on Monday (5/2) after the tyre burst. Didah Motaung said her stranded child sent her a video of the burst tyre they experienced on their way to this recreational camp at Moolmanshoek in the eastern Free State.

“I’m supportive of the school and they are in my prayers. However, if you had to send help because your bus is on the side of the road with children ... My child was stuck on that very same bus and sent me a video with crying emojis, showing their tyre burst. So going to the camp, she already had that bit of trauma,” Motaung added.

She said what upset her even more, was the comments of former students who claimed that the bus had been problematic even ten years ago.

This morning aggrieved family members of learners involved in the accident flocked in their numbers to the Riebeeckstad Secondary School in search of their children, who they last saw on Monday when they were travelling to the camp.

Officials of the Free State Department of Education and the provincial government, including Education MEC, Makalo Mohale, also paid a visit to the school, where social workers offered support to learners, teachers, parents and family members.

“What happened to our learners is devastating and we share in the pain of the teachers but most importantly, the learners. It is truly overwhelming but we are hopeful that the school will emerge from this tragedy even stronger. May the souls of our dearly departed children find eternal rest and we wish the injured a speedy recovery,” Mohale said.

Motaung is concerned about her traumatised child who is now recovering at home after being discharged from hospital.

Free State Health spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi, said the death toll remains at six. He said two girls who were admitted to Senekal’s Itemoheng Hospital last night were transferred to the Dihlabeng Regional Hospital. This, after further specialist examinations at the Dihlabeng Hospital determined that the severity of the injuries sustained by one of the two patients needed an urgent referral to neurosurgery in Pelonomi.

The girl had multiple facial injuries and she was taken to theatre to thoroughly clean the wounds. Mvambi said she might need plastic surgery, so there’s a high possibility that she might be transferred to Bloemfontein’s Pelonomi Hospital.

In an update by the Free State police records, six girls between the ages of 13 and 14 unfortunately passed on, four were critically injured and eight were seriously injured. There were 48 grade 8 learners, six grade 12 learners and two teachers on the bus, one of whom was the bus driver. The bus was returning from Moolmanshoek outside Rosendal to Welkom.

Police are investigating the cause of the accident. A case of culpable homicide is possible but it’s still too early to hold anyone liable until it has been proven as such by the outcome of the investigations.

The video of the burst tyre was sent to parents on their way to Moolmanshoek.

The names of the deceased cannot be released at this stage, as the next of kin are still in the process of formally identifying them.

The Free State Police Commissioner Baile Motswenyane extended her heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and teachers of the children. “It is with heavy hearts that we extend our deepest condolences to the families during this difficult time. We appeal to our communities to be sensitive about the details about occurred this accident and avoid communicating unconfirmed information which might cause unnecessary confusion to the families which are already going through very difficult times,” said Motswenyane.

OFM News/Kekeletso Mosebetsi  dg

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