Four staff members and 46 boys were being transported in a 60-seat hired bus from Michaelhouse in Balgowan in the Midlands to soccer fixtures at Kearsney College when the bus is alleged to have had a tyre blow-out going down Town Hill near Pietermaritzburg and flipped onto its side. Grade 10 pupil Themba Dloti‚ of Johannesburg‚ died in the crash‚ while a number of children were injured.
Rumours were circulating on social media on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning that a second child had died and another had an arm amputated. But neither of these are true.
Michaelhouse spokesperson Murray Witherspoon said 13 boys and a staff member underwent surgery on Tuesday night.
“A number of others were treated for various abrasions‚ from minor to serious. One boy had serious lower arm injuries with a fair degree of muscle and tissue damage‚ but doctors were able to save his arm‚” said Witherspoon.
In a statement on the school’s Facebook page‚ rector Greg Theron said: “During the course of [Tuesday] evening‚ too‚ a number of unfounded rumours surfaced and I believe it is important to discount these. Beyond what has been shared on our Facebook and e-mail communiques‚ no more serious injuries‚ indeed fatalities‚ were suffered‚ thank God.”
Dloti’s funeral arrangements had not been finalised.
Witherspoon said the school had a chapel service at the school on Wednesday morning. On top of this‚ various Michaelhouse committees were gathering in prayer. A Gauteng branch committee were set to gather on Wednesday at 2pm at the Rosebank Union Church in Hurlingham‚ Johannesburg‚ for a time of prayer for the boys‚ masters and their families.
Theron said the school and its pupils commemorated Dloti’s and prayed for the injured at the chapel service on Wednesday.
“It was a muted and sombre affair with the exception of the School Hymn which‚ while deeply emotional‚ threatened to lift the roof off of our chapel. Boys left there to go to tutor groups where they will be given the opportunity to talk about the accident and to ask questions. We will also be counselling both the victims of the accident and others who are in need‚ during the course of the day and over the next few weeks‚” said Theron.
Theron said most of the boys have been discharged from hospital and were back at school as day visitors.
“There are still 13 boys and one staff member in hospital‚ some of whom will be there for some time given the needs of their injuries. Most of the deep concerns we had during the course of the evening about some of these injuries seem now to have been allayed; and while they continue to be serious we believe‚ God willing‚ that all concerned have turned a corner‚” said Theron.
Theron said there have been a number of stories concerning the facts of the crash.
“We will of course be investigating these and will inform you of findings as and when we have these at our disposal. Information about sports fixtures and school events‚ specifically the C Block Journey‚ the use of bus services and the safety of our boys‚ memorial services and other information will soon follow. We are being proactive in all of these and are examining options‚” said Theron.
He expressed his gratitude to the thousands of people‚ schools and organisations who extended their support.