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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Repatriation process for 6 of 45 Limpopo bus crash victims starts on Friday

According to Ramathuba, six bodies have been positively identified using fingerprints.

South Africa is on Friday expected to initiate the process of repatriating six of the 45 human remains of the victims who died in a bus crash on Mmamatlakala bridge between Mokopane and Marken in Limpopo on 28 March.

The 46 worshippers were travelling from Gaborone in Botswana to the Saint Engenas ZCC outside Polokwane for the Easter conference on 28 March when the bus they were travelling in plunged off the bridge and burst into flames.

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One eight-year-old girl survived the crash.

According to the department of transport at the time, the driver of the bus allegedly lost control, colliding with barriers on the bridge and causing the bus to go over the bridge and hitting the ground, where it caught fire.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba visited the scene of the bus crash on Thursday.

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According to Ramathuba, six bodies have been positively identified using fingerprints.

“We are expecting families from Botswana this evening [Thursday]. From tomorrow [Friday], the repatriation process will start,” she said.

“With the remaining human remains, the process of tissue sampling has been completed and all the samples sent to our DNA laboratories – 72 tissue sampling depending on the body parts were found – they are already at the lab and the analyses are at an advanced stage. Our Botswana counterparts will do DNA sampling for comparison, they’ve already completed and sent the data to us. We have the date and are in the process of comparison. So sooner than what you think, the two presidents will be inviting you as they will be handing over the remains.”

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Masisi said the visit to the site was aimed at witnessing where Batswana citizens tragically lost their lives, but to also thank the South African government for the cooperation in the matter.

“We can go back and tell Batswana that we know where their children ended. But mainly to give thanks to the government of South Africa, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, absolute thanks and everybody who works in his government – the local government led by the premiers, ministers, MECs and various responders who demonstrated to the world what true compassion and excellence of service can be,” said Masisi.

Ramaphosa said the good cooperation since the bus crash happened was enabled by the good relations between the two countries.

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“We were able to work with the government of Botswana and today we’ve reflected on that and are grateful that we live in a liberated South Africa where the good relations become the oil and grease that enable us to work well without any friction, doubt or suspicion,” said Ramaphosa.

“I’m glad that President Masisi and his wife are here and have also enabled me to come to the site so that we can see for ourselves how these souls that were going on a pilgrimage were lost.”