Help after horrific Cradock accident

Kathryn Kimberley

PUPILS and teachers at Cradock Primary School in the Karoo are receiving trauma counselling following the horrific accident in which the headmaster and a pupil were killed at the weekend.

A team of psychologists from Port Elizabeth arrived at the school yesterday morning.

Provincial Education MEC Mandla Makupula and acting head of department Mthunywa Ngonzo visited the school yesterday to pay their respects.

Primary school headmaster Wimpie van der Merwe and 10-year-old pupil Stefanus Cornelius “SC” Ferreira were killed when a minibus, driving on the wrong side of the road, smashed head-on into their school bus.

The school’s rugby team had been on its way to a sporting event in Graaff-Reinet when the accident occurred on the R61 just outside Cradock.

Fifteen people on the minibus were killed.

Makupula visited the school before paying his respects to Van der Merwe’s widow and SC’s parents.

“We will attend to the needs of the school,” Makupula said.

Acting principal Marietjie Maree said pupils and teachers began with counselling yesterday. She said an experienced team of therapists would be on call for the rest of the week and the school would reopen on Monday.

Another four teachers are still recovering from extensive injuries as a result of the crash and have been booked off from work.

Makupula said the department would, in the meantime, provide the school with substitute teachers.

Deputy principal Alfie Blume is recovering in Greenacres Hospital in Port Elizabeth following reconstructive facial surgery.

Art and natural sciences teacher Jacques de Meilon is in a stable condition in a Bloemfontein hospital following spinal surgery.

Meanwhile, teachers Ray-Jean Wright and Mariette Adams have been discharged from hospital. They sustained minor fractures.

Wright teaches technology, physical education and Afrikaans at the school, while Adams teaches life orientation, English and economics.

“Without these teachers we are obviously severely understaffed,” Maree said.

“Another two teachers were booked off earlier this year after they were diagnosed with cancer. So it has been tough all round.”

A memorial service for Van der Merwe and SC will be held at the Dutch Reformed Church, Cradock North, at 11am tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Raymond Mhlaba High School in Tarkastad near Cradock is mourning the death of a Grade 11 pupil who was also killed in the weekend’s carnage.

Olwethu Sonanzi had been on holiday in Cape Town and was just 45 minutes from his stop when the accident occurred.

He was killed on impact.

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