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School to hold memorialservice after horror crash

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The accident took place outside the school premises last Thursday, as pupils were being transported home

Picture supplied

A MEMORIAL service will be held in Hartswater this afternoon following last week’s collision between a truck and a school bus that left one pupil dead and dozens injured.

The Northern Cape MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Pauline Williams, accompanied by the provincial MEC for Education, Martha Bartlett, will today attend the event at ER Mocwaledi Primary School, when staff and pupils pay their respects to a Grade 4 pupil, nine-year-old Refentse Serai.

The accident took place outside the school premises last Thursday, as pupils were being transported home.

Two other pupils were seriously injured but were released from hospital over the weekend, while an additional 32 pupils sustained minor injuries.

SAPS spokesperson, Captain Sergio Kock, said that an investigation into a charge of homicide was currently being conducted by the police in Hartswater.

Pupil transport is currently a shared function between the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison and the Department of Education.

Earlier this week, Williams offered her department’s condolences to the affected community and she also wished the injured pupils a speedy recovery.

“I am saddened by the dreams and potential never realised, so I pray that families may find their refuge in God and seek His comfort,” said Williams during a visit to Serai’s family last week.

Safety

“We have committed ourselves to vigorously improve sustained compliance monitoring of pupil transportation in a bid to ensure the safety of our pupils.”

Williams further urged the various role-players in pupil transport to learn from this fatal accident and to implement measures to avoid similar tragedies in future.

“As we are reeling from this shock, we appeal to operators, school management teams, school governing bodies and the broader community to keep assisting us in ensuring that we get our children to school on time and, most importantly, safe.”

According to the spokesperson for the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison, Patsy Alley, the department has also been in communication with the provincial office of the Road Accident Fund.

“We’ve visited the bereaved family to convey our deepest and sincerest condolences for the loss of their child,” Alley said yesterday, adding that both departments (Transport and Education) were in contact with the family and the school in preparation for the memorial service and the funeral arrangements.

The spokesperson for the Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, confirmed yesterday that Bartlett, accompanied by a delegation of departmental officials, had visited the school last Friday to offer government’s support to the family of the deceased as well as the greater community.

He added that the MEC would be delivering the keynote address during today’s service in Hartswater.

“MEC Bartlett met with the principal and school management team of ER Mocwaledi Primary School to covey words of comfort and support to those directly and indirectly affected,” said van der Merwe yesterday. “The department deployed its Employee Support Services and Social Workers to the school to render counselling sessions to those still suffering from severe trauma and coming to terms with the unfortunate accident.”

Today’s memorial service at ER Mocwaledi Primary will commence at 1pm.