South Africa

DEADLY ROADS

Two Limpopo teachers from the same family who died in horror crash to be buried this Sunday

Two Limpopo teachers from the same family who died in horror crash to be buried this Sunday
The scene of the horrific crash that claimed 13 lives on the R521 between Polokwane and Dendron in the early hours on Tuesday, 28 May 2024. Among the deceased were 10 teachers from Limpopo’s Capricorn North Education District. (Photo: Supplied)

Authorities say the deaths of 10 Limpopo teachers who died in a traffic accident is a loss to society and that an investigation is still under way to establish what caused the tragic crash that claimed 13 lives.

A Limpopo family is set to lay to rest two of its members this Sunday, 2 June, after they died in a crash that claimed the lives of 10 teachers.

The Mpyana family revealed details of the funeral during a visit by Limpopo authorities at Makgodu village in Moletjie on Friday, 31 May.

Asnath and Priscilla Mpyana were teachers at Kgolouthwana Secondary and Ramotshabi Secondary in Bochum.

They died on their way to work when their Toyota minibus taxi collided head-on with a truck on the R521 between Polokwane and Dendron on Tuesday, 28 May. 

The 10 teachers were in the minibus along with one other passenger, who also died. The drivers of both vehicles died on the scene.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: Angie Motshekga offers condolences after 10 teachers die in head-on collision

During the visit from government officials, a family member said they appreciated efforts made by Limpopo Education MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya and Transport and Community Safety MEC Florence Radzilani.

The MECs visited the families of the deceased teachers and the taxi driver on Friday.

Lerule-Ramakhanya said they wanted to share their deepest condolences with the families and parents of learners.

“We want to send the message to all the family members as MEC Radzilani has said that our thoughts and prayers are with you,” she said.

But most importantly, they wanted their families to know they valued the deceased teachers’ contribution to educating learners, Lerule-Ramakhanya said.

She said the deceased made time to spend with the learners they were educating. 

“We know that now when you’ve lost as families, we’ve also lost as the department and as the provincial department,” Lerule-Ramakhanya said. 

‘Closing gaps’

Limpopo Education MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya at the scene of the deadly crash on Tuesday, 28 May 2024. (Photo: Supplied)

Lerule-Ramakhanya said officials had been instructed to look into filling the vacant teacher posts.

“You will see that most of the teachers are from primary schools and you know our primaries are highly enrolled and they will have to deal with that as a matter of urgency. One of the critical issues that was raised was around the subjects that the teachers were teaching,” she said.

Education circuit managers and the principals will be starting that process on Monday, 3 June.

‘Still investigating’

Radzilani said they were still relying on information given to them at the accident scene that suggested weather conditions played a part in the crash.

She said it seemed that there were challenges with the truck driver.

Her spokesperson, Vongani Chauke, reportedly said the cause of the accident was reckless driving as the truck driver had driven into the oncoming lane. 

This, she said, was a preliminary report.

“We are still waiting for officials to finalise the final report,” Radzilani said.

She pleaded with all affected family members to be patient with those who are formally trained to determine what really occurred.

Radzilani said they wanted to send their message of condolences to all the affected families.

She said they made a commitment on Tuesday that the government would ensure that the deceased were given a dignified send-off.

“That is the reason we are here because we are a government which cares very much for its people,” she said.

Circulating video

Radzilani said she was “seriously disturbed” when she saw the video of the accident scene circulating on social media.

“I requested the provincial commissioner to follow it up. When you see that video, you can see that there were people who rushed to the accident scene before the law enforcement officers and the emergency services officials got there and you can see them taking videos.

“It worries us that if you can have heartless people who can really go to the accident scene where other people lost their loved ones, you take a video. You start to circulate it.

“I’ve given the provincial commissioner the instruction, and police will start to follow it up and make sure that whoever has done so must be taught that if we say these things are not supposed to be done, people must respect that.”

She said her department had issued a statement condemning the incident.

“We were not expecting people of this province to really behave the way we’ve seen it. It is something that we are following up.”

Radzilani apologised to the affected families on behalf of the government.

‘Societal loss’

Cosatu’s Limpopo chairperson, Esther Mokoele, who also chairs the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union in the province, said they were saddened by the accident.

She said the deceased were their members.

“We’re still very disturbed. We hope our members will rest in peace,” Mokoele said.

She said the deceased teachers had left a gap that would be difficult to fill.

“We are saying as the society at large, we’ve lost because education is a societal issue. When one teacher passes on, indeed that touches so many families,” she said.

Arrangements

Lerule-Ramakhanya said funeral arrangements had been concluded. Logistics relating to the memorial service would be organised with Cosatu .

The names of the deceased teachers are:

  • Mpyana, AN – a female teacher at Kgolouthwana Secondary in Bochum East;
  • Mpyana, PN – a female teacher at Ramotshabi Secondary in Bochum West;
  • Nkuna, MJ –a female teacher at Radibolotje Primary in Bochum East;
  • Phihlela, MR – a female teacher at Bothanang Primary in Bochum West;
  • Mashabane, ML – a female teacher at Bothanang Primary in Bochum West;
  • Tsiri, KA – a female teacher at Radira Secondary in Maleboho Central;
  • Kgakoa, CMF – a male teacher at TP Seakamela Primary in Maleboho East;
  • Semenya, KS – a female teacher at Kgobokanang Primary in Maleboho East;
  • Selepe, MD – a female teacher at Maphetja Primary in Maleboho East; and
  • Teffo, KJ, a male teacher at Mantotole Primary in Maleboho East.

A funeral and joint memorial service are scheduled for Saturday, 1 June, for Teffo, the Mpyanas, Tsiri, Selepe, Semenya and Kgakoa.

On Saturday, 8 June, there will be a funeral for Nkuna, Phihlela and Mashabane.

A joint memorial service is planned for Thursday, 11 June, at Senwabarwana Stadium.

Lerule-Ramakhanya thanked insurance company Assupol for volunteering to contribute an amount of R10,000 to each family, including the family of the taxi driver. DM

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