Cape Town — Netball South Africa have confirmed that four people from the OR Tambo district in the Eastern Cape have died after a bus accident in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The bus was transporting two teams and officials to Cape Town for the 2021 Spar National Championships, which starts in Bellville on Monday. Four fatalities (three players and one official) have been confirmed.
On Sunday evening, Netball South Africa president Cecilia Molokwane issued a statement that read: “As Netball South Africa, we are deeply saddened by this news. Losing lives is never an easy thing to deal with.
"We are devasted by the news and we would like to send our deepest, sincere condolences to the families who have lost loved ones.
"We are all in mourning. The people that passed away are part of netball, and we are heartbroken by all of this."
The accident happened in Aberdeen, a small town in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality of the Eastern Cape, around 4am on Sunday.
The MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture in the Eastern Cape, Fezeka Nkomonye, and Eastern Cape Netball President, Nompumelelo Javu rushed to the scene after the accident.
“We can confirm that there has been four fatalities, and we are in the process of informing families," said Mpumi Javu, Eastern Cape Netball President.
"This is not how we wanted to kickstart the tournament or end the year. However, we find ourselves in this situation.
"These are trying times, and we request a bit of privacy and space to handle this matter. We will liaise with Netball South Africa, and they will communicate accordingly.”
Earlier on Sunday, Molokwane announced that national champions Tshwane have withdrawn from the week-long championships.
After Covid tests were conducted on players and management, two players tested positive. In the past few days, players started showing Covid -19 Omnicron symptoms. Consequently, the Tshwane Netball executive advised their mother body, Gauteng Netball, of their decision to withdraw the team for fear of compromising the event, and for the safety of individuals.
The Tshwane contingent has been advised to isolate and monitor for further symptoms.
Riana Bezuidenhout, the president of Gauteng Netball, said it was deeply disappointing that Tshwane would not be able to defend their title. However, she felt that safety and health should never be compromised.