Four dead in bus crash on way to SA netball National Championships

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Netball South Africa have confirmed that three players and one official died on Sunday morning, in a bus crash carrying two teams to the National Championships in Cape Town.

The teams, both from the OR Tambo district in the Eastern Cape, were travelling past Aberdeen when the accident occurred at 4am on Sunday morning, according to a statement released by Netball SA.

Netball South Africa president Cecilia Molokwane said: "We are deeply saddened by this news, losing lives is never an easy thing to deal with.

"We are devasted by the news and we would like to send our deepest, sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones.

"We are all in mourning, the people that passed away are part of netball and we are heartbroken by all of this."

Mpumi Javu, Eastern Cape Netball president, added: "We can confirm that there has been four fatalities and we are in the process of informing families.

"This is not how we wanted to kickstart the tournament or end the year, however we find ourselves in this situation. These are trying times and we request a bit of privacy and space to handle this matter."

MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture in the Eastern Cape, Fezeka Nkomonye has requested a full report into the bus crash, and was at the scene on Sunday morning to gather information, according to Netball SA.

The tournament, which starts on Monday and continues till Saturday, will continue as planned, despite injuries to 25 people in addition to the four deaths.

Additionally, the defending champions, Tshwane South, have withdrawn due to coronavirus cases in their squad, but Netball SA says the tournament will be played under strict COVID-19 protocols regardless of the fourth wave gripping the country.

Molokwane explained why the tournament was not being postponed: "We are sports people and we want to be in there. We are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and we cannot risk anything of not playing any big tournament.

"We are preparing for the 2023 Netball World Cup. How is netball going to be fashionable and be known out there if we are not playing and not exposing the game to the people?

"We were not going to do anything until government says we are closing. If government said we are closing, then as abiding citizens we would have done that. We are continuing and we will take precautions as we encourage everybody."