On the road to Matsha

The Letlhakeng-Morwamusu Road PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
The Letlhakeng-Morwamusu Road PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES

Sometimes being a journalist can make one feel like a vulture. This was the thought that I had as we drove through the Letlhakeng-Morwamosu road chasing the story of the Matsha tragedy.

As the nation knuckled down to pray for the lost young souls, my colleague Sharon Mathala and I were assigned to Kang to get  the whole story from the school, the surviving children, parents and police.

We were expected to locate grieving parents, shocked schoolmates, troubled officials and get the story of what really happened. We were expected to go in-depth than had already been related, and to ask the difficult questions.  While everyone was united in mourning the students, we were the insensitive duo that were demanding answers.

The Letlhakeng-Morwamosu road is free, wide and allows sheer driving pleasure.  The vast Kgalagadi desert plains decorated by patchy clouds overhead in the huge sky with the occasional camel thorn tree, horse-rider or livestock, provide a refreshing drive. 

But enjoying the road trip was the furthest thing from our minds because of the grave significance of the journey we were undertaking.

Our first encounter with grief was at Takatokwane Police Station where the now infamous truck wreckage was standing facing the main entrance like an imprisoned child-eating monster. 

The wreckage cannot be missed and brings back to life, the horrific images that were sent to our WhatsApp inboxes.  The lifeless bodies of students lying on the hot tarred road waiting for slow help.

Inside the station, the police are busy on what one of their charts confirmed was the first fatal accident along the Letlhakeng-Morwamosu road this year. 

Parents were at the station to identify their children’s luggage and spotting my bulky camera, many gave me a cold stare, as I tried to reassure them that we were not going to take pictures of them or the luggage. 

In my heart though, I wanted the pictures. I wanted to return with pictures of parents fetching the luggage of their children who never made it home from school. One of the grieving relatives was from Mmantshwabisi and had lost her sister, a young mother of one.

The sister had red eyes and kept getting lost in  thought during our interview.  Her red eyes are still with me. We could not miss the scene of the accident. 

About four kilometres from Dutlwe, we found shattered glass, a truck windscreen, oil, blood and black skid marks.  The people of Dutlwe must have heard the loud bang and screams of students as the accident occurred. We also spotted two black socks on the roadside and empty two litre bottles of drinks. 

WhatsApp images of students laying on this very tar returned.

We continued to Matsha where we arrived just before sunset. The school staffroom looked like a war zone with windows all broken.  Plainclothes security agents roamed the school premises as the remaining Form 4 students revolted on Friday evening upon hearing about the demise of their senior former schoolmates.

Editor's Comment
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