President calls for support for Driehoek community following tragedy

Saturday, February 2, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the death of three learners at Driehoek High School in Vanderbijlpark as a tragedy that “touches all South Africans”.

“We have lost young people who were engaged in the most important endeavour of their young lives – their education,” said the President on Saturday.

On Friday morning a bridge, which connected two buildings, collapsed and trapped several learners. Three learners died and 23 were injured and are recovering in hospital. 

“I offer my deepest sympathy to the families and friends of the deceased learners and I equally extend my condolences to the staff and entire school community of Driehoek High School,” said President Ramaphosa.
The President also wished those who were injured a speedy recovery.

He welcomed the psychosocial support that government is extending to the families of the deceased learners as well as to injured learners and their families, and the staff and governing body of the school.

“It is my hope that the people of our country and of the Vaal will at this time come together as one to support the Driehoek school community in this hour of mourning, while government, working with the school community, embarks on a process to establish the cause of this tragedy and to ensure that we can, at an appropriate time and under appropriate conditions resume learning and teaching,” said the President.

Government and the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga have also sent condolences to the parents and school community.

Motshekga said: “This tragic accident has surely traumatised the entire school community, but none more so than the parents who said good bye to their children this [Friday] morning, not realising that it would be their last.

“One cannot begin to imagine the trauma these parents are going through, especially those who are unable to identify their children due to the severity of their injuries. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this incredibly difficult time. I know words seem shallow at a time like this, however, my condolences are truly sincere.”

The Minister said she had been in contact with Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who visited the school after the incident. At a media briefing following his visit he said he had closed the school until further notice and while investigations into the cause of the collapse are underway.

Government, in a statement, urged the public to always ensure the safety of children wherever they are, be it schools, churches or play grounds.

“Government sends condolences to the families of the departed and wishes the injured speedy recovery.” –