Painful Christmas for families of Boksburg explosion victims

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Joined: Nov 2016

It will be a painful and traumatic Christmas for the families of the victims of last year’s tanker explosion in Boksburg as they commemorate the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.

The country watched in horror as dozens of people fell to the ground in agony when a liquefied petroleum gas tanker operated by Infinite Fleet Transport exploded after becoming stuck under a railway bridge on Christmas Eve.

The driver took a wrong turn while trying to get onto the N17 and miscalculated the slope of the road under the bridge. The trailer was damaged, which led to a gas leak. Rescue workers went to help, but a short while later the tanker exploded.

The explosion resulted in the deaths of 41 people, including 12 healthcare workers who were killed when the flames from the blast spread towards neighbouring areas and the nearby Tambo Memorial Hospital. Scores more were left injured or traumatised.

SowetanLIVE’s sister publication TimesLIVE spoke to some of the affected families ahead of the one-year anniversary, and they opened up about the continued trauma and struggle to move on after the tragedy.

Rose Mashaba, who lost her two children, Ndumiso and Neo, and daughter-in-law Vutiri Mlati, said she would be out of the country after an offer of help from a friend.

“We are not coping. That is why I want to be out of Boksburg,” she said.

“Kgosi [her youngest son] was admitted some weeks ago. He had a panic attack. He’s not coping so we decided to let him go [to Cape Town] for a while.”

Glen Volmink, who survived the explosion, told TimesLIVE the Christmas season made him “very nervous” as he has had health challenges for two consecutive years.

In 2021 he spent a month in hospital during the festive period after his gallbladder ruptured, and in 2022 he was hospitalised and spent months healing from his extensive injuries. He was the only one in his family affected by the explosion.

“It was very bad from January to May. I had a lot of pain and suffering. But it’s healed now,” the 67-year-old said.

Earlier this month, the Gauteng health department unveiled a wall of remembrance for the 12 workers based at Tambo Memorial hospital who lost their lives.


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