Deeply traumatised and disconcerted principal of Bronkhorstspruit: Her voice breaks and she fiddles with her wedding ring when she recalls seeing the tiny bodies being removed from the wreckage. No screams were heard coming from the minibus. recalling the terrifying accident and the ugly experience that followed: ‘I couldn’t believe it was my children in those ashes’Twenty people were killed in the crash; 18 pupils and two adults.

In total, nine learners from Mahlenga Senior Secondary School were involved in the accident. Four of them have already been discharged from hospital, while another is still in hospital.

 Christinah Tjiana has been the principal at the school since September 2014.

Tjiana stays in Bronkhorstspruit, about 30km away. She was one of the many who immediately rushed to the scene when they were informed about the accident.

“When I arrived, the paramedics were already there. It was one of the scariest things, I could not believe what I saw,” Tjiana says.

Her voice breaks and she fiddles with her wedding ring when she recalls seeing the tiny bodies being removed from the wreckage. No screams were heard coming from the minibus.

“We could still see how paramedics were taking the remains of the learners out of the minibus. There was no more screaming and crying,” Tjiana says.

The 52-year-old principal sits in her office chair. Behind her are trophies and medals for Best Performing School.

She says it was not easy to stand in front of the learners and tell them about the incident.

“When the minister addressed them, they were calm and it was not chaotic. During the debriefing when I told them who the learners involved in the crash were, they started crying,” she says.

Tjiana’s voice is filled with emotion when she says one of the learners cried hysterically and tried to run away, but was later caught by a teacher.

The teachers of Mahlenga Secondary still find it hard to deal with the incident, but the weak will continue to say, “We are strong”, she says.

Bronkhorstspruit: ‘I couldn’t believe it was my children in those ashes’