Hennie Botha is an ex Sandton firefighter and diver who was responsible for managing and training Johannesburg’s emergency divers between 1997 and 2000. Hennie was not directly involved with the Westdene Bus Disaster in any way, but his involvement with the Diving Unit and research into the disaster has brought about an emotional bond with the victims and survivors of this tragic accident.
As mentioned elsewhere in this site, the Emergency Services Diving Unit was established as a direct result of the Westdene Bus Disaster. Before the accident, repeated requests to set up a diving unit was rejected. Would having a diving unit have prevented 42 children from drowning? Who would dare to say no? But if a diving unit could save only one life during it’s entire existence, especially if it was that of a child, it would be worth it. Unfortunately, risk management and the realities of budget constraints does not allow for this sort of argument.
Hennie left the emergency services towards the end of 2002 to launch Dumel, a web development company with home offices in Wellington and Centurion. He has been maintaining westdene1985.co.za in various forms since 1999.
This website aims to do the following:
- Honour the memories of the children who died in the disaster
- Attempt to offer the survivors of the disaster some closure
- Support the friends and the families of those affected
- Celebrate every person who assisted on that day and in the days following the disaster and in some cases, are still working to relieve the pain of individuals trying to process this tragedy
- Thank every individual and company working to treasure the memories of the victims, be it by maintaining the graves or contributing to events held in their memory