'I will cry for many years': father of Hoërskool Driehoek pupil

Flowers and messages have been left at Hoërskool Driehoek where four pupils died last week.
Flowers and messages have been left at Hoërskool Driehoek where four pupils died last week.
Image: NONKULULEKO NJILO

It was a cloudy morning on Tuesday at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark, which was rocked by tragedy last week.

The road leading to the school was lined with cars parked on either side as pupils arrived for counselling. Flowers, cards and candles had been laid at the front gates of the school.

Pupils stared at the messages of remembrance left for those who lost their lives in the fatal walkway bridge collapse on Friday. The names of the four pupils who died are written on bright yellow and purple shirts pinned onto the school fence.

"Here is where angels live," reads one of the messages.

Pupils gently wiped their tears with tissues while comforting one other. The hurt in their eyes was evident.

Inside the school, scaffolding was erected at the school after the incident. Gazebos have been set up on the grass, where a small circle of support groups are formed. In one of the groups is Donovan Olckers, the father of 17-year-old Roydon Olckers.

Roydon, Jandré Steyn and Marli Currie all died on the school premises, while a fourth pupil, Marnus Nagel, succumbed to his injuries over the weekend. At least 20 other pupils are still in hospital. 

The grieving dad, Donovan, described Roydon as a "lovely boy" and a child of God. The family is still battling to come to terms with the death of the energetic 17-year-old who loved dancing and sport.

"I am really proud of how he lived his life. His passing has brought a new chapter in my life, which is inevitable. I still cry over him - and I will for many years," he said.

Donovan was overcome by grief when he first heard the news of his son's passing. He told TimesLIVE how he repeatedly punched his fists against a wall: "I kept shouting, 'No! No! No!'"

Donovan said the family will continue to fight through each day and find comfort in knowing that God is on their side, adding that God has filled the void left by Roydon. "For my wife it will also be a difficult path, but we will trust God," he said.

The tragedy has rocked the entire community. Local resident Annari du Plessis was at the school to show her support. "Look at the weather, the sun is still not shining. Everybody is really, really hurting," she said.

Pupils of Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijl Park returned to school on Tuesday for the first time following the death of four pupils after the collapse of a concrete walkway.


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