KATIMA MULILO – Ngweze Community Hall was packed with learners and other mourners that last Friday attended a joint memorial service for seven schoolboys who perished in a crash on the Katima-Wenela road, while the victims were buried separately over the weekend.
Scores of mourners gathered at the Ngweze community hall to pay their last respects to the victims who died in one of the most horrific accidents to occur in the region.
Many of the victims were learners in the Zambezi Region between the ages of 16 and 23.
Zambezi Regional Governor, Lawrence Sampofu, who consoled the families of the victims at the sombre gathering appealed for concerted efforts from all road users to reduce road carnage that he noted has continued claiming countless lives.
“Death by road accidents has claimed a number of precious lives. This is something that we seriously need to think about as car owners, commuters, traffic police and as leaders and do something about it. These accidents mostly happen due to lack of road discipline that make people careless about traffic laws. All they care about is arriving at their destination fast,” he said.
According to Sampofu, a staggering number of 2 768 crashes have occurred since the beginning of the year with close to 500 fatalities and over 4 000 injuries – a trend he says is quite worrisome.
“According to statistics of road accidents as from 01 January this year, 2 768 crashes have occurred, 494 fatalities and 4 650 injuries. As the regional leadership we are seriously concerned about the trend of road crashes on the national road network, particularly due to the high number of fatalities and people injured in these crashes,” said the concerned Sampofu.
It is believed the teenagers were travelling from ‘Stony City’, a popular rock formation spot on the banks of the Zambezi river adjacent to Wenela border post, when the accident occurred.
Seven others survived the crash that involved a Hilux single cab bakkie transporting them from the recreational spot. The latter are receiving treatment in the Katima Mulilo state hospital while others were transferred to Windhoek for further medical care.
It is suspected the driver of the bakkie, a teenager himself and who is among the survivors, failed to negotiate a curve resulting in the vehicle overturning and tossing out its many occupants. A speeding sedan car that followed the bakkie aggravated matters by running over those that were tossed onto the road.
The deceased are Peter Letu Karipi (21), Mbanga Wendy Mbanga (20), Masuka Given Sibalatani (20), Mwenda Sinvula (20), Leonard Hauwanga (20), Kamwi Alec Siseho (17) and Masule Simataa (17)..
The memorial service included the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi and the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, Hilma Nicanor.
By George Sanzila