Two of the 11 children injured in Bonteheuwel after a bakkie ploughed into New Year’s Eve revellers are still in a serious condition.
The children, aged nine to 17, were injured in the hit-and-run in Soetdoring Road, at about 1am, on Sunday January 1, when the Isuzu bakkie rammed into a dancing crowd at a street party seeing in the new year.
According to residents, the driver of the bakkie didn’t stop and sped off after hitting the children. Bishop Lavis police are investigating a case of reckless and negligent driving.
Police spokeswoman Captain Marie Louw said the driver, a 32-year-old man who lives in Soetdoring Road, had handed himself over on Monday January 2.
He is out on bail, and the case has been postponed while police gather statements from witnesses.
On Monday January 2, residents met at the scene of the tragedy to show support to the families of the injured and to pray for the children’s recovery.
The gathering was arranged by the Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum.
Those injured are, Anzeo Jumat, 9; Asheeq Jantzen, 16; Yarnick Andrews, 16; Ebrahim Samuels, 15; Moegsien George, 15; Casey Brown, 15; Jaymie Kwasha, 17; Hayley Jacobs, 17; cousins Lezandre Petersen, 14, and Reanzay Petersen, 14; and Mushfieqa Abdurahman, 14.
Eight of the children were hospitalised, but all have since been discharged except for Casey Brown, who is in Groote Schuur, and Anzeo Jumat, who is at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
Resident Sophia Moses, 65, said street parties had become something of a tradition for the Soetdoring Road community on New Year’s Eve. She helped to organise the latest one.
“Street parties are not new in our community around this time of the year, especially New Year’s Eve. Many people now want to question why the children were on the road at that hour, but I want to appeal to parents not to judge. While you are judging other children, your child could be up to something even worse,” Ms Moses said.
She is usually among the revellers dancing at the front of the crowd, but on that fateful night, she decided to watch the youngsters from her front yard.
“I used to be part of a minstrel troupe and used to entertain the youngsters with my dance moves. This year, we thought we would not be able to host the street party because of the recent gang violence, but we never expected this to happen. I went lame when I saw how fast the man drove and how the children flew in the air after being knocked over,” Ms Moses said.
Another resident, John Onkers, told those gathered they should be grateful all the children had survived.
“I know many of you are still hurting physically and emotionally. We all saw how that man drove. He did not stop. We must be grateful that the children are all still with us. God gave us a second chance, and we must all remain in prayer for their complete healing,” Mr Onkers said.
Judith Kennedy, of the Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum (JPF), said her organisation, with the help of Natasha Lodewyk and the trauma centre, was arranging counselling for the children and their parents.
Lucinda Lintnaar said her daughter, Lezandre Petersen, had injuries to her back, leg and foot. Lezandre was discharged from Somerset Hospital on Monday January 2. Her cousin, Reanzay, had deep bruises on her face, her left arm was hurt, and she underwent an operation on her right leg on Tuesday January 3.
“It’s going to be Reanzay’s first year of high school and she’s stressing because her leg will need time to heal, and she will miss the first week or two of school,” her mother, Rene Petersen, said.
Shamielah Abdurahman is grateful her daughter survived the ordeal.
“I say shukran to Allah. As a mother, it hurts deeply when something like this happens.”
Boundary Primary School principal Sharon Willis, also spoke at the gathering, describing how the incident had left her shaken. Anzeo, is a pupil at her school.
“When I heard what happened, it was all so surreal to me. We love Anzeo very much. My heart goes out to all of the parents affected. I am also a mother. I would like to encourage parents to talk about your fears. Don’t hold back. And pray constantly for your children. Let what happened here draw you closer as a community. My love goes out to all of you,” Ms Willis said.