There was a sombre atmosphere at the start of the Spar National Netball Championships in Cape Town. Candles were lit and prayers were said for the three players and one official who passed away in a bus accident en route to Cape Town for the tournament.
More than 20 passengers were injured with some in serious condition. The netball players were part of two teams from the OR Tambo District in the Eastern Cape.
“I know you’re not used to me being this way, however, the circumstances don’t let us celebrate anything at this moment. There’s absolutely nothing to celebrate, the only thing that we can celebrate if we have to celebrate is the lives of the players we lost and the official that we lost,” says President of Netball SA Cecilia Molokwane.
The coach of one of the Under 21 netball teams from the OR Tambo Netball District in the Eastern Cape says they are devastated by the loss of three of their players.
Coach Nomawethu Diko says their deaths came as a big shock.
“As the OR Tambo team, we haven’t played in five years because of a lack of resources. Now we were going to nationals to showcase the potential that we have. In the past five years, we have been training for this moment. The players are hurt and disappointed that they couldn’t make it to the field. We are deeply hurt by their passing. There was nothing that we could have done to save those players,” says Diko.
Sombre mood at the start of the Spar National Netball Championships:
Meanwhile, the Charles family from Zimbane Valley in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape say they are in dire need of counselling to deal with the loss of their daughter, Phelo Onele Charles. The 30-year-old is among the three netball players who died in a bus crash yesterday.
Phelo leaves behind her three-year-old daughter. Her devastated mother, Busisiwe Charles, says she is still in shock.
This is so painful, it’s unbearable. It becomes more painful when I look at her toddler whom she has left. I wonder what I will do with her because I am old now. I am nearing sixty years now, what am I going to do. It’s so painful, but because we are believers, we trust God we are pulling through. He has promised us that he will journey with us.”
The Maxikixa family at Mdikiso village in Mbizana lost their 20-year-old daughter Thabisile Maxikixa, a third-year student at Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha. Her mother, Nompendulo Maxikixa says she’s lost her beacon of hope.
“We are deeply hurt. I even uttered selfish words and said I wish I was the one who died because I am not working. I said God should have spared her life because she is still young and would find work and support her younger brothers. I blame God for this. I don’t think I will ever heal. I even wrote that this wound will only heal when I meet my daughter again,” says Maxikixa.
Netball South Africa President Cecilia Molokwane on the accident: