A heavy load to bear

Boeta Rousseau helping at the Westdene Bus Disaster (second from right). His daughter Alice was not on the bus that day but normally would have been. So many “angels” helped that day. In loving memory of all the kids and my Uncle ‘Boeta”. By Mary Gous

Also in the photo is Elmar Botha (the young man in the background not wearing a shirt). He was a young police officer at the time. Read his thoughtful comments below.

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6 Comments

  1. Good day

    One of the Angels in the back drop is a client at the Talisman foundation. His name is Elmar and served the South African police force for many years. He can be seen in the back second from right. The Westdene disaster is one of many incidents that he helped at which eventually led to his mental health demise. He is currently doing exceedingly well and we are hoping for full reintegration in a little while. Elmar has very distinct and vivid memories of pulling one of the survivors from the submersed bus. I was wondering if it was at all possible to track this lady (or a representative from the incident) and have her/him attend our Mandela day event as we would like to honor Elmar for his sacrifices and bravery in serving humanity. Please do assist.

  2. Nooit, nooit sal jul vergeet word, liewe kinders…
    Hierdie foto, die eerste waarna ek nou kyk, op die eerste besoek aan hierdie website, het als weer so (te?) duidelik laat terugstroom… Dit is die eerste keer, na al die jare, wat ek hierdie ramp opgesoek het – maar dit was nog nooit uit my gedagte nie. Die jong persoon in die agtergrond, sonder hemp … is ek.
    Ek was ‘n jong polisieman op die destydse Onlus-Eenheid 2, so 20 jaar oud, en het, in polisiebroek, pype opgerol, ingespring om te probeer help nadat ons na die toneel gehaas het met die idee dat ons bang kinders uit ‘n bus in miskien halflyf-diepte water, gaan kant-toe help en die water sou kon geniet. Groot, so wreed en groot was die skok by aankoms op die toneel! Niks van die bus was bo die water sigbaar nie.
    Ek sal later meer skryf; die beelde van toebroodjies, ‘n onskuldige liefdesbriefie, boeke wat op die water dryf, die dogtertjie pas uitgeswem wat probeer “dankie” prewel, net om bietjie later met ‘n wit laken bedek te word, in finale oorgawe aan ‘n lot waarvan die sin en doel nog nie vir my deurskemer nie, is nou, selfs na al die jare, net te skielik en te veel, miskien is die wonde nog nie so genees soos gedink…
    Rus in vrede julle, hierdie “jong oompie” van daardie dag sal jul nooit, nooit vergeet nie…

    • Baie dankie Elmar, jou boodskap tref baie diep, selfs vir iemand soos ek wat nie daar was nie. Ek hoop ons hoor weer van jou.

    • Elmar, ek besef elke dag net meer en meer hoe die busramp soveel mense aangeraak het daardie dag. Baie dankie vir jou boodskap op ons webwerf. Ek is n oorlewene van die busramp en sal graag met jou wil gesels, kontak my asb op elize@westdene1985.co.za Groete Elize

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