The horror Mitchell’s Plain bakkie crash that killed five primary-school pupils has claimed a sixth life just days before five more children died in another deadly crash in the city.
Lentegeur High School Grade 8 pupil Akhumzi Don Magidigidi, 14, from Khayelitsha, died of his injuries in Groote Schuur Hospital on Thursday morning July 6.
Three days later, on Sunday July 9, another bakkie crash, this time on the N1, claimed the lives of five more children.
Akhumzi had been in a coma since being airlifted from the scene of the AZ Berman Drive crash on Tuesday May 30 (“Five pupils killed in crash,” Plainsman May 30).
His father, Mr Magidigidi, 45, told the Plainsman that the family had celebrated Akhumzi’s 14th birthday at their home on Friday May 12 – just a few weeks before the fatal crash.
Akhumzi has a 27-year-old brother and his 17-year-old sister attends Cedar High School of Arts. All three of them attended Meadowridge Primary School as children.
Akhumzi had had dreams of becoming a soccer star, and the sport had come naturally to him, said Mr Magidigidi, who declined to give the Plainsman his first name.
Mr Magidigidi recalled the morning he got the call about the crash.
“I came from the night shift. My son and I would usually pass each other because he would be on his way to school and I would just have returned from work. I was awoken by a call from one of the fathers of the children involved in the incident. When I arrived at the scene, it wasn’t a pleasant sight.”
He said his son had suffered severe brain injuries but no broken bones.
“Like any parent, we had hope for our son. Akhumzi was a positive person. It is so unfortunate, but we didn’t know God’s time.”
Akhumzi was 6 when he started playing soccer and he captained the under-10, under-12 and under-14 teams at Royal Citizens FC in Khayelitsha, according to his coach, Lizo Belekana.
“I took him under my wing as a boy. I spotted him on the soccer field and he has been family ever since,” said Mr Belekana. “He played the left-back position. Akhumzi was very cool, very disciplined and he was a born leader. We are saddened by this loss.”
Akhumzi played in the number-12 jersey, the same as his role model, star Real Madrid footballer Marcelo Vieira.
Mr Belekana said the Royal Citizens FC would now retire the under-14 number-12 jersey and present it to Akhumzi’s family.
Lentegeur High School acting principal Welile Tuswa wished Akhumzi’s family “strength during this time of mourning”.
Akhumzi will be buried in Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape, on Saturday July 22, said Mr Magidigidi.
Provincial police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm Pojie said the investigation into the crash was ongoing.
Meanwhile, police are investigating a culpable homicide case after Sunday night’s crash on the N1 killed five children and injured six other people.
Provincial police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the Ford Bantam bakkie had been travelling from Koue Bokkeveld to Dunoon. The crash happened between Brackenfell Boulevard and the R300.
A man was arrested and would appear in court once charged, said Captain Van Wyk.
According to ER24 spokesman Russel Meiring, the bakkie rolled and emergency services arrived on the scene at about 11pm to find it upright on the centre median.
“Several patients, including children, were seen scattered around,” he said.
Medics found that five children, aged 1 to 7, had sustained fatal injuries. “Nothing could be done for them, and they were declared dead,” he said.
Six other patients, including children, were assessed and found with injuries ranging from minor to critical.
Paramedics treated the patients and provided the critically injured with advanced life support before they were transported to nearby hospitals for further care.
“Circumstances surrounding this accident are under investigation,” said Captain Van Wyk.
Titanium Securitas Medical Response team spokesman Kobus Kotze said it’s believed the driver lost control of the bakkie which then hit a barrier. The driver was arrested on the scene by police.