I had a dream last night…

Hey everyone,

I had a dream last night, sharing a happier moment in the dream with Jacqueline Hurwitz, who died in the Westdene Bus Accident. I was in standard 8 that year and Jacqueline was in standard 6. We just started a relationship and I still remember very clearly the very nervous moment I asked her to be mine on Valentines day just shortly before the accident. I loved Jacqueline the first day she joined our school that year. We used to have a shared music class across from Mrs Bishoff’s (Purple Rain) English classroom on the ground floor next to the boy’s bathrooms, and I remember nervously sitting behind Jackie, unable to breathe, and totally taken in by her presence. I loved that girl, and never really loved like that again.

I’m often shoved back into that memory/reality with dreams that crop up from time to time. Somehow over the years I’ve learned to embrace the heartache and pain of that year as a precious and intense emotional momento of a short time in my life when I intensely loved and “felt” – that unique and special experience where you “connect” with a sole mate, even at such a tender age.

A change in my routine that day saved my life. A change in my routine that day still plagues me that I could not again sit next to her on the bus like in the days before and nervously hold her hand and shyly talk about nothing that is important . . . but just talk. And yet today, her shy smile and voice, soft as whisper, still lingers . . . . hauntingly precious . . . .

I met her family for the first time next to her grave with the mass funeral that was held, and went to visit her mother and sister in their apartment a few weeks after the funeral.

I stayed on at Vorentoe Hoerskool and matriculated there, but did not maintain contact with her family. I was for most part dysfunctional at high school, a loner that used to stare at the memorial under the tree next to the school library, introverted within my own sense of loss and pain.

I am plagued by a question since the accident. A question I never had the confidence to ask her mother. It is time. I would like to make contact with her mother or sister and close this query that is on my heart. I was wondering if anyone would have their contact details or know where they can be found.

I know they lived in the flats/apartments off Edward/Gibson Streets in Sophiatown nearby Melville Koppies. I can’t imagine them still being there, but was hoping someone would know how I can get in contact with them.

I’ve since moved with my family to the UK, have completed doctorates in criminology and political sciences, have a family of my own and have not been back to South Africa now for close to 11 years. Last night’s dream was a reminder to me that I still have unfinished business there, and still have a desire to be and remain in contact with my roots. Your help in getting me in contact with Mrs Hurwitz would be greatly appreciated.

Do we have a club/association/memorial-remembrance society?

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind regards
Dr Damion Duvahldohr (aka Johann Smit)



  2. Dear Dr Duvahldohr

    I understand how you feel as Jackie was my cousin and I can say we still miss her after all these years.

    Her sister has imigrated to the USA but I often still see and speak to my aunt.

    Is there an email address that she can contact you?

  3. I will be able to put you in contact with her sister if she is willing. Please email me on lara@live.co.za>

  4. Karin Theron (nee) Taljaard

    Hi daar J – vanuit Kanada sedert 1997!! ) kontak gerus

  5. Ja!! Dit was n tragiese dag in ek dink almal se lewe wat probeer het om die kinders te probeer red, om te moes baklei met al daai water om by hulle te kom. Dit voel vandag nog soos gister dat ek in die dam geduik het om als te probeer om soveel moontlik lewens te red, kan nou nog voel hoe ek met my knieg probeer het om n busruit gebreek te kry en verplig was om terug te swem na die ambulans om n voorwerp te kry om die ruit gebreek te kry.

    Die dag toe ek terug geroep is na ons HK in Brixton om genoegsame toerusting na die dam te neem en my vader wat ten tye die diensoffisier was my meegedeel het dat daar n bus in die dam beland het, en ek eers gedink het dit is n gewone oefening bly my nog vadag by, die erns en bekommernis in my vader se oe het my laat besef hy maak nie grappe nie en dat hy ernstig is, ek was die tweede ambulans op die toneel, gestop en sonder om aan my veiligheid te dink die dam ingeduik en na die bus geswem, daar het ek teen die bus se kant af beweeg en so uitgevind dat dit nie n enkeldekker is soos omstanders aan my assistent vertel het nie maar well n dubbeldekker is, met my knieg het ek die venster probeer breek maar het nie geslaag nie, om van die kinders in die bus te sien spartel sal my altyd by bly, van die kinders het dieper die dam in geswem waarop van die ander kollegas wat by gekom het begin het om na hulle te swem. Ek kan nog goed onthou hoe een van die dogters wat ek probeer resuseteer in die water in my mond gefomeer het en toe oorlede is. Dit was seker die seerste dag in my lewe want ek was opgelei om lewens te red en het daai dag gevoel my hande is gebind, so asof gebede om meer te vermag nie gehoor word nie.

    Na n lang dag in die water en eers om middenag na als opgeruim is kon ons almal tot rus kom en ons gevoelens verwerk, om te weet my skoene wat ek daar in die dam verloor het en seker vandag nog daar le en deel was van my uniform laat my voel ek het darm vir een dag in my lewe iets vir mense beteken. Gereeld wanneer ek stil en alleen is dink ek terug aan daai dag.

  6. Hello
    I was living in Jo’burg at the time of the disaster. I was a nursing sister working at Jo’burg Hospital paediatric A&E when the call came in of the disaster. I worked in the police morgue that night helping teachers do a preliminary id of the childrens’ bodies before taking the parents into to the morgue to identify their child/children. The sight, sounds, smells and anguish of that night still lives with me today 26 years on – I will never ever forget it!
    There is a Facebook page ‘Westdene Bus Disaster Tribute’ which you may find helpful in your search for Mrs Hurwitz.
    I wish you luck in your search.

  7. Dear Dr Duvahldohr –
    I hope this finds you well.
    My greetings to you & your family.
    I work in a project of the University of Johannesburg that is involved with many residents from the area; Sophiatown – I could try to help with our contacts, if you wish to – a lot of the colleagues are historians and firm in finding people and contacts. Perhaps you want to send an email?
    Best wishes –

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