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By Chulumanco Mahamba

Digital Night Supervisor


WATCH: Remains of Limpopo bus crash victims returned to Botswana

Victims of a tragic Limpopo bus crash have been repatriated to Botswana, offering closure to grieving families.


The remains of the 45 victims of March’s deadly Limpopo bus crash were returned to Botswana on Tuesday.

Limpopo Health MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, led the repatriation process for the remains of the Botswana citizens at Polokwane International Airport.

These were people who lost their lives in a tragic bus accident on 28 March at the Mamatlakala bridge on the R518 road, with only one survivor.

Team worked hard to positively identify remains using DNA

The Limpopo department of health said a multidisciplinary team comprising the Saps victim identification unit, the Forensic Pathology Services, the Biology Section of the Forensic Science Laboratory Unit, and their Botswana counterparts has worked nonstop since the accident day to recover and positively identify the human remains using DNA.

This process ensured that the human remains were repatriated to their respective families.

ALSO READ: Sole survivor of Limpopo bus crash recovering, set to discharged soon

“It has been a long, tiring, and equally traumatising journey for the team. However, we are comforted by the fact that the families will finally find closure,” said Ramathuba.

Send-off prayer session

Ramathuba and Botswana High Commissioner Sanji Monageng led a hearse convoy to the Airport, where a final prayer session was conducted before the bodies were taken back to their home country.

Watch the hearse convey here:

While en route to the airport, Ramathuba said the repatriation process was complex because, after the bus crash, the bodies sustained mechanical injuries, physical trauma, and amputations of limbs that were scattered on the scene.

“The second damage was the hit itself, because when the bus caught fire, those body parts that were scattered all over caught fire. When the rescue mission started to collect the remains, it wasn’t easy,” she said.

The MEC added that there were 41 body bags, but according to the bus company, the department of transport, and border management, there were 46 passengers on the bus, including one survivor.

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

Ramathuba said postmortem reports had to be done on all the remains, including the amputated remains, to get DNA sampling to confirm their identities.

“We must thank our Botswana families because they did not have to come to the country to do DNA sampling matches.”

Closure for families

The MEC said the prayer send-off was important because when the accident happened, President Cyril Ramaphosa instructed the Limpopo premier to make sure that the families of the victims found closure.

Watch the send-off session here:

“The president was very clear to say that as a caring government, we have got to make sure that the least we can do is to make sure that the families finally find closure, and the only way to find closure is when you have the remains,” she said.

ALSO READ: Limpopo bus crash: Only 9 of 34 bodies recovered are identifiable

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