Gauteng premier, David Makhura, said families who lost loved ones in the Nigerian collapse should be comforted by the fact that they died doing God’s will, at a mass memorial service held at Johannesburg City Hall this afternoon.
The memorial service comes two months after a guesthouse connected to prophet TB Joshua’s, Synagogue Church of all Nations collapsed and killed 116 people, eighty of which were South African.
Makhura said the nation is with the 22 families from Gauteng who lost loved ones. “They died in God’s name, they died serving him,” he added.
Seventy four bodies were successfully repatriated on Sunday, with a further 11 left behind. Earlier this week, Phumla Williams, spokesperson for the department of communications said the identification process for those left behind would have to start from scratch to “positively identify” the remains.
Sombre-faced family members made their way into the hall, some holding hands and others holding back tears.
The families have been asked to not view the mortal remains of their loved ones as the bodies were exposed for some time.
Makhura said government did their best in the repatriation process because “Jacob Zuma’s government is a government that cares.” The 22 families who will lay their loved ones to rest this week, need only ask if they need any assistance Makhura said.
A truck driver accused of three counts of culpable homicide appeared briefly in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
Isaac Maruding, the man who was driving the truck that caused a huge crash on the N12 in Alberton last month, has had his bail extended after a postponement.
Maruding appeared wearing all black, a change from the dirty overalls he was wearing before. Today magistrate, Samuel Hlubi allowed for his case to be postponed and moved to regional court when he reappears on January 23, 2015.
It was revealed that Maruding’s private attorney, Mokhele Salemane, has withdrawn since he secured R7000 bail for his client. A withdrawal state prosecutor, John Ntuli, called Salemane “unprofessional” as the court was only informed Wednesday by the accused.
The postponement was granted to give Maruding time to yet again find a new legal representative.
Three people died when the truck Maruding was driving ploughed into cars stuck in traffic on the N12, damaging 48 cars. Maruding fled from the crime scene – something the state previously argued made him a flight risk.
Maruding is facing charges of culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving.
He was previously convicted of the same crimes almost 17 years ago. He served 18 months in prison for those crimes.
Maruding’s licence has been handed over to authorities until his case is finalised. This means the former taxi and truck driver will have no way of making an income for some months to come.
A crime prevention campaign launched by the ANC Youth League Tuesday, doubled up as a platform for the ‘bring back Bheki Cele’ campaign.
Bheki Cele, now deputy minister of agriculture and fisheries, was invited by the ANCYL in his capacity as an ANC national executive committee member. The event, hosted by the youth league, saw ‘Operation Wanya Tsotsi’, a call to reclaim the streeta being launched.
The crowd erupted when Cele, dressed in all black with a signature hat, entered the Vosloorus Civic Centre. A group shouted “bring back Bheki” when a question on how to fight crime was asked.
Cele called on the youth to channel the anger the country has over crime to start fighting it. “We must organise to close and squeeze the space for criminals”.
He added that communities should come together to expose criminals. “You know these people. Criminals like to talk about their loot, their money and their girls but you choose to keep quiet.”
The crime fighting campaign came after the shooting and killing of Bafana Bafana captain and Orlando Pirates goalie, Senzo Meyiwa, last week.
Cele’s attendance was seemingly in line with the call from aggrieved fans who asked for the former police commissioner to be brought back to fight crime. The informal campaign was trending on social network Twitter under the hastag #bringbackbhekicele last week:
A commission of inquiry into a structure that collapsed at an estate in Meyersdal has heard that the slab that fell, weighed 84 tonnes.
Seven men died and eight more were injured when the slab fell on them.
On Thursday, the second day of the Meyersdal Structural Collapse Incident Inquiry faced another hostile witness, as the engineer refuses to answer the commission’s questions.
Ranjan Galal, the engineer of the structure, dodged numerous questions asked by presiding officer, Phumudzo Maphaha. This was much like contractor, Errol Romburgh did on Wednesday.
After a barrage of questions, Galal cracked when Maphaha put it to him that his design and not the construction work, was responsible for the collapse.
“It was not my design that caused the collapse,” said Galal. Even though earlier in his testimony he had said that the design shown on TV screens during inquiry proceedings, was not his but an architect’s. Galal changed his tune when Maphaha said they had been on the site together after the collapse.
Maphaha insinuated that the 84 ton slab was supported by columns that could not support that weight. Along with this he said those weak pillars were built atop “no foundation, they were on a retaining wall”.
The commission adjourned after all the commission’s witness appeared within two days. Maphaha will be compiling a report and making recommendations to the director of public prosecution.
Question after question posed by a commission sitting in Tshwane on Wednesday into the collapsed building near Alberton which left seven people killed and nine injured, were ignored by the contractor of the Meyersdal Eco Estate when questioned.
Errol Romburgh, a member of Romicon, the construction company that was building the luxury house at the estate when part of it collapsed, refused to answer questions posed by presiding officer, Phumudzo Maphaha.
This morning the comission heard Romburgh say he was following his legal advice to use his legal right to “not answer any incriminating questions”.
The Meyersdal Structural Collapse Incident Inquiry has been set up to further investigate the collapse that happened on August 18.
Despite Romburgh’s refusal, Maphaha continued to put questions to him about his workers and health and safety issues on site. He concluded that “recommendations will be made to the National Prosecuting Authority,” following Romburgh’s failure to comply by remaining silent.
Maphaha said the purpose was particularly to investigate the cause of the collapse that led to the deaths and injuries.
Prior to Romburgh three workers gave their testimony to the commission. They were all on site when the building collapsed but could not remember how the structure came tumbling down, only waking up later in hospital.
Collins Mohale said he was given a hard hat, boots, gloves and overall but never shown how to use them. “Not everyone wore the protective clothes,” he added.
Second witness, Patrick Moremi said in the eight years he had worked for Romicon, he had undergone no health and saftey training or medical check-ups.
Another witness and worker who survived the collapse, Sandile Mabuza gave similar testimony.
Nine year old, Veronicah Mofokeng was laid to rest today after disappearing from her father’s Soshanguve home last month. Her body was found dumped at a construction site, mere metres away from her home.
Her aunt, Jenah Lebogo said Veronicah said: “she disappeared on September 6… Her body was found on September 15″.
Lebogo explained that Veronicah’s face was burnt, making it difficult to identify her body. Buried at the site, were her clothes and used condoms.
The family only received DNA confirmation that the body was in fact Veronica’s, this week, nearly a month after the little body was found. Her killer and rapist is still at large.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa attended the funeral in Soshanguve, Tshwane today.
“The way she died broke my heart,” he said, adding that Veronicah’s killer had violated her rights as a child. He called on the community to help police find the killer and that they should “speak out”.
Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi was also in attendance. He said in the past 150 days that he has been in office, he has attended six funerals of children in the province. “This is a difficult and painful exercise,” he lamented.
Inconsolable teachers and learners from Nchuncheko Primary School were in attendance at the funeral service.
In recent months a number of child killings have taken place in Gauteng:
– Taegrin Morris (4) – Taegrin died after being dragged for several kilometers during the hijacking of his mother’s car in Reiger Park. His killers are still at large.
– Curburne van Wyk (3) – Curbune’s little body was found burnt and dumped in a mine dump in Reiger Park. He was reported missing a week prior. A man, Katlego Phoku, has been arrested.
– Luke Tibbetts (3) – Luke was shot in the back by a stray bullet. He was sitting on his mother’s lap. The bullet was supposedly meant for his uncle who was also in the car. Luke was in ICU on life support machines for a week. Two men Lindray Khakhu and Keenan Mokwena were arrested.