Community rallies in support of Driehoek families
An outpouring of support has been felt around the whole country for the children affected by the tragedy at Driehoek High School on 1 February 2019. The tragedy touched the hearts of all South Africans and moved many to act by contributing either financially or with their talents. Roydon Olckers, one of the teenagers killed in the walkway collapse, has been nominated for a prestigious bravery award by the Government. Though he feels honoured, he’s always thought of his son as a hero, says Donovan Olckers, father of Roydon Olckers. Roydon, aged 17, was in matric at Driehoek and saved the lives of two Grade 8 learners when the first-storey concrete walkway collapsed. He’s now been nominated for the Order of Mendi for Bravery, which is a national honour awarded by the Government.
On 1 February 2019, when the walkway collapsed, Roydon shoved Caitelin Harris and Denise Fourie aside, they’d been walking under the walkway when he realised it was about to collapse. Moments later the walkway gave way. Roydon died on the scene. The tragedy claimed the lives of four pupils, as well as injuring 20 others.
Dr Dewald Venter, a senior lecturer in tourism management and a graduate of Hoërskool Driehoek, said the tragedy at his alma mater affected him deeply. He lives in Vanderbiljpark in the Vaal Triangle where the school is located. "As someone who researches military heritage and as a writer I work closely with former and current members of the armed forces. Their stories of heroism, heartache and hope reminded me of Roydon’s selfless act. I’m familiar with the Order of Mendi and its stringent requirements. I believe we owe it to Roydon to honour him for his selflessness and love for his fellow humans."
The Presidency awards the honour to South Africans for exceptional acts of bravery, such as placing their own lives in danger or who’ve lost their lives in an attempt to save another’s life or property, in our outside South Africa. The order is named after the SS Mendi, a South African steamship that went down during World War 1 with 600 black soldiers as well as several white officers on board. The soldiers had been underway to France to assist British forces. The ship sank in the English Channel near the Isle of Wight after it collided with another ship on 21 February 1917.
Donovan says he met the girls Roydon saved. "A counsellor asked if I’d come to pray with them. I did, because I wanted to help bring them healing." He says Dewald let him know first that he wants to nominate Roydon for the order. "I’m grateful he let me know and he has my blessing. In my eyes, Roydon’s always been a hero. Everyone who knew him will tell you he was a special laaitie [boy] who brought joy and laughter everywhere he went. "He wasn’t perfect, like anybody, he had faults."
Hein Knoetzé, headmaster of Hoërskool Driehoek, says he’s aware of the nomination. "Everything at school is still upside-down – I haven’t had a chance to even think about it or talk to the two girls," he says. "But I think it’d be good to honour Roydon. I’m glad that something positive can come out of this tragedy."
Following the Hoërskool Driehoek tragedy at the beginning of February 2019, Jacaranda FM’s Breakfast with Martin Bester asked their listeners to help the victims and their families. The response was overwhelming: To date, listeners and Good Moning Angels have helped collect more than R2 million to this cause.
On Friday, 1 February 2019, the country was shocked by the news of a walkway collapse at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark as the children were leaving the morning assembly to go to their classrooms. Three pupils: Roydon Olckers, Jandré Steyn and Marli Currie died at the scene, with a fourth, Marnus Nagel perishing from his injuries two days later. Twenty children were still being treated in various hospitals around Gauteng for severe injuries when the campaign started.
Schools were the first to add their weight: Hoërskool Waterkloof contributed R65 000 on the morning of the Jacaranda FM My School Rocks live broadcast from the school. This inspired other schools, like Hoërskool Kanonkop in Middelburg, Cambridge Academy in Witbank, Constantia Kloof Primêr and Shangri La Academy in Kempton Park, to name a few, to also join the fray, with donations ranging between R6 000 and R15 500.
Businesses and churches also joined in: Wimpy South Africa donated R100 000 to the cause. Lekkeslaap.co.za sponsored seven nights’ accommodation in a top-class Pretoria B&B for Charmaine and Cobus Steynvaart when Shamoné was transferred from the Life Wilgers Hospital to the rehab centre, where she will be for up to 12 weeks. Accommodation for the rest of this rehab period will be sponsored by a local church.
Listener “Kobus” and his team will renovate Shamoné’s gran’s home, which they own, to accommodate Shamoné’s new mobility reality. They will team up with Häfele South Africa, who will supply the correct fixtures in the bathroom and around the home to assist Shamoné. Another company, R&H Projects, will install a brand new air conditioner for Shamoné as part of the renovation. The team has already visited the house, drawn up the plans and will start the repair soon to have everything ready for Shamoné’s return.
Charmaine and Kobus live just across the road from Gran and their landlord has also offered to alter their rented flat to accommodate Shamoné’s wheelchair needs.
Another listener, Wiekus Pretorius, who lost his left eye in a freak accident 36 years ago, pledged to pay R5 000 per month to Shamoné for the next 10 years, a total of R600 000. A further anonymous donation of R50 000 has also been paid into Charmaine’s account.
Also, 116 further payments, ranging from R50 to R100 000, have been received and paid over to date by Jacaranda FM’s Good Morning Angels to the Hoërskool Driehoek Family Aid Fund, totalling R378 500.
Martin and the team also confirmed that, although they are still in talks with the listener who pledged R500K to Hoërskool Driehoek and R200K to the Steynvaart family, the Jacaranda FM Good Morning Angels team made sure that the family received much more assistance than what was initially pledged. Good Morning Angels also committed to paying the R500 000 that was pledged to the Driehoek Fund, regardless of whether the donation is actually received, bringing the total contribution to the family fund by Jacaranda FM listeners and Good Morning Angels to R878 500.
According to Martin Bester, the host of Jacaranda FM’s Breakfast with Martin Bester, “One can’t be anything but overwhelmed by the heart of South Africans to jump in, in times of need. I maintain that we have the most generous and giving listeners in the country. From the smallest donation to the biggest, each of you made a life-giving difference and we, along with the staff, parents and learners of Hoërskool Driehoek, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”
Klippies Kritzinger from the Hoërskool Driehoek Family Aid Fund who, along with an independent panel, manages the allocation of funds also joined Martin and the team in the studio. This fund was set up to cover essential expenses and is currently focused on accommodation for parents to support their children, unpaid leave for those who can’t be at work because they are caring for their kids, fuel costs and, of course, substantial medical costs not covered by medical aid or the authorities.
An emotional Kritzinger said, “I have received calls from all over South Africa to help. The total amount that has been paid over into this fund equals over R2 million. Big amounts came in but what really stood out for me is the R100 donations. We must have respect for these individuals who maybe gave us their last R100 to help and make sure that these funds are used responsibly.”
Source: News24 and Radio Jacaranda