Families of hit-and-run victims in dark about end-of-term gathering
The devastated families of three teenagers fatally mowed down by a taxi at the weekend were not even aware that their children were at the end-ofterm party in Zwide where the hit-and-run tragedy occurred.
One girl had told her family she was going to a braai at a friend’s house, while the mother of a second victim was working nightshift and unaware that her son had gone out.
The families of Yonela Matyu, 14, Siyasanga Adoons, 19, and a 17-year-old girl – whose identity is still being withheld – struggled to contain their emotions as they left the New Brighton state mortuary yesterday.
Speaking outside the mortuary, Yonela’s grandmother, Nobahle Matyu, said she had been under the impression that the teenager was attending a braai at the home of a family friend.
Siyasanga’s mother, Zola Adoons, said that when she got home her son had already gone out, “but I didn’t know where”.
The 17-year-old girl’s grandmother – who identified herself simply as “Princess” – said her granddaughter had also left home without telling anyone where she was going.
The three victims were part of a huge group of almost 1 000 young people who turned up at the “pens down” street party about 200m from the popular Eyethu Sports Bar in Zwide.
With the party in full swing in Spondo Street at about 1.30am on Sunday, a minibus taxi – allegedly speeding – ploughed through the crowd, instantly killing Yonela and the 17year-old, while Siyasanga was declared dead on arrival at a hospital.
Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said the driver sped off afterwards and the badly damaged Quantum was found abandoned later in Bethelsdorp.
Five other party-goers were injured and taken to Dora Nginza Hospital, with three of them discharged the same day after X-rays.
Anda Sikweyiya, 19, who suffered a pelvic fracture, and Sinomtha Mlatebe, 13, had since been transferred to Livingstone Hospital, where they were in a stable condition, according to health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo.
Beetge said about 50 minibus taxis had ferried the youngsters to the venue, where the vehicles then blocked the road for a party outside after the teenagers had been denied access to the sports bar.
A tearful Matyu said: “We have lost a true angel of our family. Her [Yonela’s] mother died in 2006 and she readily stepped into that role for her younger siblings.
“But at the moment, we are just trying to make sense of all this because she told us she was going to a braai.
“At about 3am, I was still up and noticed chaotic scenes in my yard.
“A taxi driver had gone to one of the flats in my yard to tell my child what had happened to Yonela. “I just heard her screaming.” She said they had not been concerned for Yonela’s safety as she had regularly slept over at the house where she had said the braai was being hosted.
“She was only in Grade 8. She was such a shy girl and always listened when spoken to,” a traumatised Matyu said.
“That’s why when she said she was going to a braai, we didn’t even question it.
“Now we are having to identify her body in the mortuary.”
Adoons said she had been informed by police about her son’s death about five hours after it happened.
“I had no idea where he was. I was working nightshift and returned home at about 3am on Sunday.
“I wasn’t too worried because Siya regularly left the house without telling us where he was going, and then returned later. So I thought this was normal,” the shattered mom said.
“But then, at about 7am, the police knocked on my door and told me what had happened.
“He was a good child – yes, he did naughty things, like all other teenagers, but he was a father and teacher to his younger sisters.
“When I was at work he was the one preparing food for the house, looking after his sisters and so on.
“He left school this year in Grade 11 after he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
“He was supposed to go to a specialist today, but when the hospital called I had to tell them he is dead.”
The unnamed 17-year-old’s grandmother, Princess, screamed and cried hysterically after leaving the mortuary while family members tried to calm her down.
“We didn’t even know she was gone! How could this happen, mta’nam [my child]! She was a good child.”
Meanwhile, Matyu said: “He [the alleged driver of the death taxi] needs to suffer the full extent of the law.
“What type of sick person drives into a crowd of children and just keeps driving?
“He needs to be caught, whether by the community or the police.”
Police have been searching for Tsvipa, who is believed to be in the country illegally, after the minibus was found abandoned in Qhagquwa Street, Bethelsdorp, at 1pm on Sunday – just metres from his house.
Beetge said: “The owner of the taxi has been assisting us with identifying who the driver of his minibus was.
“The minibus is usually parked at his [Tsvipa’s] address, which is the same street in which the vehicle was found abandoned. “Anyone with information can contact Captain Schalk van Wyk on 082-527-7495.
“The hunt is on and we are appealing to the public to assist us.”
He said although the 17-year-old’s family had gone to the mortuary, they had not brought the correct documentation for the death to be officially documented.