Once Upon An Accident...

This past Saturday was one of those horrible days you don't want to remember the following day. It starts well until I listen to radio and hear on the news that there has been an accident and four people are dead. The newsreader glosses over the story as if it was a weather forecast. Well, we all know that newsreaders are not journalists so the emotion attached to the story does not really rub off on them. So, just as I'm digesting the details I get an text message on my cellphone that the Member of Executive Council for Mpumalanga, in charge of Education, Reginah Mhaule will visit the hospital where the injured are being taken care of.

Now, what I failed to tell you is that the accident involved a train and a bus ferrying learners who went on an outing to Pretoria (capital city of this country). They have been to the zoo, the Union Buildings and various tourist spots in the capital. And to make matters worse they were less than fifty kilometres to their destination after travelling roughly 500 kilometres unscathed.

Now, the news are that the bus was hit by the train at a level crossing. That worried me because the point behind a level crossing is to allow a train to pass since it can not make way for a car. Okay, the gist of the matter is that people died, some were injured and some escaped with trauma.

Now, I went to the Mapulaneng Hospital at 14h30 to cover the MEC's visit to the wounded. Ja, the people were pretty bruised, fractured bones, darkened foreheada. You just didn't want to be in their place. The MEC was accompanied by a pastor who prayed for every patient while the large entourage from education stakeholders bowed their heads.

After the visit the MEC left. Then another MEC, this time for Public Roads and Transport Dr Clifford Mukansi arrived, flanked by the mayor of the municipality where the accident happened. Now, what was refreshing is that Mukansi is a doctor by profession so his tour of the ward was informative. He spoke with the nursing staff, requesed to see the X-ray pictures to assess the injuries, enquired about medication they have been placed on and the availability of a doctor to take care of them.

The sister who was helping him comprehend the situation also had excellent comprehension of her work. She knew how to answer questions. I could see the doctor smiling - and I reckoned she fancied her working for him in the event that he decided to go back into medicine.

The tour ended well with information having been shared between the MEC and the hospital staff. And me as the guy from the media actually gained a lot from 'this' exercise unlike the first one. I had a convo with the MEC and we ended up crafting quite a good story for the newspaper.

Then on my way back home, I saw another car accident. A taxi and a bakkie had collided at a corner where six other accidents have happened over the last six years. I couldn't wait to ask if anybody died - it was just too horrible for me to be inquisitive. I couldn't ask, the same way I didn't ask when I was told that the day earlier, barely 200 metres from there a bus hit a person and killed her/him - nobody's sure since the corspse was covered.

I lacked the enthusiasm. It's not nice reporting on dead people, especially when that dead person could have been you. Ja neh, then late at night on Sunday I have a chat with my friend who works for the traffic department to find our where were they when some of these things happened. He told me that they have been told that the department does not have money to pay for overtime - which is weekends. And to think that weekends are the busiest time of the week. Ja neh!

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