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After years of pleading with authorities for traffic lights in front of the school in Koeberg road, Ysterplaat Primary’s personnel had to tell each and every learner that they will never see their classmate again.
They also had to notify 11-year-old Ester Nsenga-Banza’s parents that she was killed by a reckless taxi driver.
On Friday morning at 07:50 children were waiting on the western side of the main road for the traffic warden, Tammy Roos, to allow them to cross.
A teacher at the school, Marisa Meyer, elaborates: “Traffic stopped on the left hand lane and the right hand lane was empty. Tammy stood in the middle of the two lanes and held up her stop sign while the children crossed. Ester was holding her sister’s hand when she walked past Tammy.”
Speeding taxi

Then in dreadful moment the lives of several people changed forever.

Tammy saw a taxi speeding towards her in the right hand lane…
Ester’s sister, Doel, was suddenly yanked out of the way by Tammy.
Both of them – as well as the other learners who watched the scene unfold – saw the taxi pulverise the gentle Ester.
Straight after the horrendous accident the scene teemed with people trying to help.
Ester’s family was notified and they were there in a heartbeat. They would have seen paramedics and two teachers administer CPR on the unrecognisable and mangled ruin that was their daughter.
According to Meyer, Ester’s heart started beating again, upon which her father called out: “Praise the Lord!”
Ester died on the way to the hospital.
Counselling

A couple of teachers and principal Johann Kruger had to literally carry the grief-stricken family into a room in the school itself.

All the people who saw the accident received counselling and every child at the school was informed of the morning’s tragedy.
A tragedy that should have been prevented according to Kruger.

“I have been urging the authorities to erect a set of traffic lights in front of the school since 23 April 2003. Last year two of our learners were seriously injured on separate occasions! People just refer our request from one person to the next,” says Kruger.
An indent has been placed in the road, a stop sign was given to the traffic warden and small poles were erected on the side of the road.
Kruger says it wasn’t a day before those poles were destroyed by vehicles.
Neither Kruger nor Meyer can understand how a few hundred metres up the road there are two sets of traffic lights (placed within 15 metres of one another) while authorities simply refuse to place any where more than 400 children cross a busy road twice daily.
Ward councillor Bernadette le Roux
confirmed that there will be a meeting that will involve all the role players “as soon as possible”.
Traffic and roads engineers will join her and Kruger and the way forward will be carefully analysed.
She adds: “Firstly, I want to say that it is a disgusting incident! The driver probably knows the area well and he must’ve seen the traffic warden and the schoolchildren! I heard he tried to drive away from the scene were it not for another motorist who blocked his escape route.”
Le Roux also asks whether a traffic light would suffice, since children get run over whether there’s a traffic light or not.
On Thursday morning at 07:15, parents and teachers will be participating in a peaceful protest in front of the school in Koeberg road.
A memorial service for Esther will be held at the school on Friday.
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tbabystertree
The gloomy overcast clouds cast a shadow over proceedings at Ysterplaat Primary last week.
The father and mother of 11-year-old Ester Nsenga-Banza were planting a tree on the school grounds in memory of their daughter, who was brutally killed in front of the school by a reckless taxi driver on 11 May.
With every spadeful of earth they wept and with every tear shed, onlookers were submerged in despair.
These included schoolchildren, the principal Johann Kruger, senior manager: operating licensing and permits Bernie McMahon, and MEC for Transport in the Western Cape, Robin Carlisle.
TygerBurger reported on 15 May in the article entitled “Traffic light’s high price” how Ester was run down at 07:50. The taxi driver allegedly ignored the traffic warden’s stop sign, barely missed Ester’s sister Doel and then doused the light of Ester’s life.
He apparently tried to flee the scene, but the vigilant community prevented him from escaping.
The taxi driver appeared in court and received R1 000 bail.
The private and public sector jumped to assist the impoverished family with money and other goods.
Representatives of two of these private companies, Stodels and Pick n Pay were also present during the morning.
Pick n Pay donated R12 000 to the family and Stodels R5 000 along with clothing and a Waterberry tree.
Says Nick Stodel, managing director of Stodels Nurseries: “The story of Ester really touched our hearts and we hope in some small way we can relieve some of the financial burden facing the family. It won’t bring Ester back, but there will be a tree to commemorate her life and hopefully this drive will raise more awareness about the totally unacceptable accident statistics caused by reckless driving on our roads.”
Pick n Pay’s marketing manager, Mark Jennings admits that he too found the story of Ester’s death disturbing.
“We immediately knew we had to help the family,” he elaborates.
“There are so many tragic stories and we help so many. This one was particularly sad and horrible.”
John Kalenga, who arrived in South Africa in 2007 from the Congo urges the government to do something for the school before the tragedy is repeated. “I don’t want anyone to feel the pain we are feeling now,” he says.
The school’s principal has been asking authorities to erect a traffic light in front of the school in Koeberg Road for years.
His insistence has, however, been falling on deaf ears.
Bernie McMahon said the provincial government will do everything in its power to avoid a similar incident.
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The Provincial Regulatory Entity (PRE) is looking to roll out an integrated traffic management system at schools in the province.
This news came after an 11-year-old schoolgirl was killed when she crossed Koeberg Road.
TygerBurger reported on this accident in last week’s article entitled “In memory of young Ester”.
The integrated management system will apparently include a tracker, which will be connected to a traffic light.
The traffic light will then turn red when a car approaches and a pedestrian is trying to cross the road.
PRE’s senior manager for operating licensing and permits, Bernie McMahon, revealed this during the tree planting ceremony at Ysterplaat Primary in memory of Ester Nsenga-Banza.
This system might, according to McMahon, be implemented at most schools.
“It’s no good if we are all here today and tomorrow our intervention stops. Safety is ongoing. Children are the future of tomorrow. We need to roll this out. Ysterplaat isn’t the main focal point,” she explains.
The Safer Schools initiative will also ensure that children are educated on the dangers of crossing a road.
“We will educate the children on an ongoing basis and then they will go out and educate their families and friends,” she says.
A lot of research will have to be done before it can be decided what traffic calming measure will be installed where, but insofar as the other projects go, it is clear McMahon is eager to get the show on the road.
“We need clear signage in front of schools, humps where there should be humps and traffic lights where needed. We are also giving reflector jackets to Ysterplaat in the meantime,” she concludes.
Ysterplaat Primary’s principal, Johann Kruger, has been asking authorities to erect a traffic light in front of the school in Koeberg Road for years.
Several accidents later and it seems as if Kruger might finally get his wish. Until new traffic lights are installed, however, they will have to make do with reflector jackets for traffic wardens.
***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE AND PHOTO WERE PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER.***
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