MEC Phophi Ramathuba visits South Africans hospitalised in Botswana after deadly horror crash

Limpopo MEC for Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba. File Picture

Limpopo MEC for Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba. File Picture

Published May 5, 2024


Limpopo MEC of Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, has visited South African nationals who are hospitalised in Botswana, following a horrific road crash where at least seven South Africans lost their lives in the neighbouring country.

The crash happened last week after the group of South Africans had gathered in Gauteng, and travelled in a minibus to Botswana, for a church service.

The Botswana Police Service (BPS) said the incident occurred in the southern district of the country, in Ranaka village, about 77 kilometres from Gaborone. It involved a Range Rover SUV occupied by four Batswana travellers and a Toyota minibus occupied by the 15 South Africans.

Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba, who travelled to Botswana to represent the South African government at the mass funeral of 45 Batswana who died in a bus crash in Limpopo during the Easter Weekend, took the opportunity to visit the South Africans who are hospitalised in Botswana.

A forensic pathologist combs the burnt remains of the bus that was taking Easter pilgrims from Botswana to Moria, following its crash near Mamatlakala in Limpopo. File Picture: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

In an interview with broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, Ramathuba said the South Africans lost their lives while travelling back home after a church conference on Tuesday last week.

“The report that we received from our High Commissioner Shope (Thaninga Shope-Soumah) who is with us here is that there were South Africans who were attending a church conference here in Botswana. Unfortunately on their way back, they were involved in an accident between an SUV and their kombi that they were travelling. They were 15 including the driver,” Ramathuba told the television news channel.

“It is unfortunate that seven of them died, and there are those who survived. As a country we have lost seven lives, four were admitted - two in another hospital.”

The travellers were members of the St John Apostolic church.

Ramathuba said she wanted to ensure that the hospitalised South Africans in Botswana were well taken care of and in good spirits.

“The second mandate is to ensure that the surviving families find closure and that is why we are working with our high commissioner here,” she said.

Post-mortems have been done on the deceased South Africans and the information has been sent to the South African Police Service (SAPS).

“We are liaising with our South African police team so that they can run the fingerprints. Once that is verified to say this is so and so, we are going to be working together with the high commissioner’s office, the Dirco (department of international relations), SAPS and everybody else, the family, the church to get the next of kin of those who passed on to come to Botswana and do that legal identification with the police,” said Ramathuba.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi visited the bus accident site where 45 citizens of Botswana died at the Mmamatlakala Bridge along the R518 in Limpopo.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi. File Picture: X/@BWGovernment

The ill-fated bus was transporting Botswana citizens, from the capital Gaborone to the popular Saint Engenas Zion Christian Church (ZCC) for the annual Easter service attended by throngs of people from different parts of the world.

Only one passenger, Standard 4 learner Lorraine Atlang Siako, survived the horrific crash, and was hospitalised. She was travelling with her grandmother, who died in the crash.

Lorraine Atlang Siako - the sole survivor of the Limpopo crash where 45 Botswana nationals perished in a tragic bus accident while heading to the Saint Engenas Zion Christian Church (ZCC) for the annual Easter service. Picture: Screengrab/Newzroom Afrika

IOL later reported that Lorraine was discharged from a Limpopo hospital and was escorted by several medical care workers, senior government officials and members of the media as she arrived at the Polokwane International Airport, to catch an hour-long connecting flight to the OR Tambo International Airport in Joburg.

From Joburg, Lorraine who was then joined by her mother, took the flight back to Botswana.