Gauteng has a heart

Gauteng showed its true colours recently at a farewell party for the three teenage amputees, Lucky Segobela, Bonsilie (Bonnie) Ntombela and Sisanda Ndenyane, victims of February's horror bus smash that took place in Leondale, south of Johannesburg. (Picture: The vibrant Bonnie addresses the audience)

The horrific school bus accident claimed the life of a 15-year-old boy and injured another 125. Unlike that terrible day in February, this day was one characterised by smiles. These grew broader when it was revealed that the pupil's previous school had raised R85 000 for prosthesis for the teenagers, an amount that will be matched by Netcare. One set of prosthesis cost between R50 000 and R60 000 not including ongoing adjustments to the prosthesis.

The three teenagers sat giggling and chatting to pupils from Hope School while waiting for the official proceedings to start. Led by the vibrant Bonnie, who has already outgrown her first set of prosthesis and was in a wheelchair on the day, the three also answered the media's questions and patiently posed for photographs. The three had come a long way, and the ER team that were the first to arrive on the scene of the accident testified to this. "It was like a war zone and it was chaos." The team said the only thing they could liken the event to was that of a shark attack. It was as if something had grabbed the bus from the front and then tore it apart." (Picture: Sisanda on his prosthesis demonstrates the progress of the three teenagers)

The Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga, who had been on her way to work and was also one of the first people on the scene, said: “I knew Bonnie would be okay as she still smiled but I was worried about Lucky. I wept that day for the parents of the children and the children themselves. It was very sad so I am happy to see that today these three children all .” The minister also thanked Netcare for their quick response to the situation, calling Netcare a “place of miracles”. Netcare sponsored complete rehabilitation programmes after the accident and regional manager, John van Clempter, said there was not a moment’s doubt that Netcare would help when they received the call.

The rehabilitation programme included physiotherapy; occupational therapy and trauma counselling. The programme assists amputees and other victims of trauma to cope with their experiences and forms an important part of their reintegration into society. This process has been successfully completed and the teenagers are now ready to take up their lives with their families and communities once again. To assist them, John Robbie from 702 raised R183 000 for an educational trust set up for the teenagers. Cellular network service provider, MTN, donated computers to help them with their schoolwork and future careers. Plato SA donated the software. (Picture: The Netcare 911 team that arrived on the scene first on the fateful day of the bus accident compared the scene to that of a shark attack)

John Robbie and 702 were also praised for their assistance, with the minister calling the tragedy a lesson in hope and recovery. Leoni Beaurain, hospital manager at Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital, said the three would always be affected by the horrific crash and the loss of their limbs. However, she added that they were in good physical shape and were coping with the tragedy bravely.

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