Taxi tragedy recalled as driver shot dead.
Eight years after an horrific taxi accident on the Van der Kemp’s Kloof Bridge claimed the lives of six children, the death of the driver responsible has opened old wounds.
IT MAY be nearly eight years after the horrific taxi accident on the Van der Kemp’s Kloof bridge in which six children lost their lives, but the recent death of the driver responsible for the accident has opened old wounds for those who lost their loved ones in the crash.
Ralton van Rooyen, 33, of Heath Park, died in a hail of bullets last weekend was killed on Saturday when he shot in the back of his head, chest and back while in his taxi at William Slammert Drive in Bethelsdorp in broad daylight.
Police are still investigating the details around the mysterious and brazen shooting.
On the day of the accident, September 10 2007, Van Rooyen was driving a the Toyota Quantum in which he had crammed carrying 22 passengers.
He was driving at 170km/h when the taxi overturned just before the vVan der Kemp’s Kloof Bridge.
Several children were flung from the vehicle. Those killed in the accident were Darren September, 13, Nazira de Kock, 12, Kirsty Topley, 12, Candice Esau, 10, Zoë Walton, 9, and Vuyo Masoka, 10.
All but Walton had been pupils at Triomf Primary School. Walton attended Sanctor Primary School.
A total of 14Fourteen other pupils sustained serious to minor injuries in the deadly crash.
One of the survivors of the accident, 18-year-old Aaminah Tiry, said the old wounds opened up for her each time she saw an article regarding the accident or the late Ralton vVan Rooyen.
Aaminah was an 11-year-old Grade 5 pupil at Triomf Primary at the time but has just passed matric at St Thomas High School and is planning to study nursing this year.
“The injuries I sustained had in the accident were more mental and psychological than physical. Yes, I had a knee injury and spinal injury but I still suffer from panic attacks and trauma,” she said.
Aaminah said she was passionate about nursing because she wanted to help and care for other people.
“I want to work with children and babies especially. I was thinking about studying BCom Law or psychology but now I know that nursing is the way to go because you can specialise in different fields.
“I think it has to do with my experience with doctors as well. I have been going to see doctors for the past seven years.”
The softly-spoken teenager said she still had flashbacks whenever she saw an article about the accident or drovewhen she drives past the scene where it occurred.
“I used to have very bad nightmares. but I do not get have them anymore but I still get the panic and anxiety attacks. I think that is part of why I feel like I need to move away from Port Elizabeth.” It is not me running away but rather starting a new chapter somewhere else.”
She said she had received incredible support from her parents over the years, as well as from her boyfriend.
“I have not been an easy person to deal with since the accident but their support has been amazing. My mother has come with me to every doctor’s, appointment, every psychologist’s appointment and every lawyer’s appointment as they are still finalising my RAF [Road Accident Fund] claim.”
There was outrage when vVan Rooyen was had been released in June 2012 after being sentenced in March 2009 and serving only three years of his nine-year sentence.
This week, the hurt and anger over the accident was palpable in Port Elizabeth with many still angry about the incident, saying said karma had come into play taking to fFacebook to express their feelings and saying said karma had come into play.
This week many readers reacted to the news of van Rooyen’s death on Facebook, some still expressing anger regarding his early release.
Duane Breedt said: “Nothing more refreshing than hearing about these idiots getting what they deserve.”
Sue Chinasamy agreed: “Am a strong believer in karma, what goes around comes around”.
And while angry commentators had their say, others asked why vVan Rooyen was allowed to operate a taxi again after his release.
Michael Dunstan Swanepoel said: “He should never have had been permitted to drive after the accident, especially not a taxi. I do, however, sympathise with his family”.
Another reader, Shawn Hartzenberg, recalledreminisced about the accident, saying: “Scary. I was one of the medics who that attended to the accident in 2007 and treated a little boy with an amputated arm. Was such a sad day. RIP to all that was involved.”
When asked to comment on vVan Rooyen’s death, Triomf primary school principal John Meyer said: “I am sorry but I am not going to comment on that. It is a sensitive issue.”
Like Meyer mMany family members, still filled with anguished over the accident, did not want to speak.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Alwin Labans said police are were still investigating the shooting of vVan Rooyen but no arrests have been made as yet.
“I spoke to the detectives involved in the case and they have requested the media to ask the of the public for assistance in the speedy arrest of the person guy responsible.”
– Lee-Anne Butler