This site is dedicated to the 42 children who lost their lives on this tragic day, the men, women and children who worked frantically to save every possible life and also the family and friends who lost loved ones.
If you were close to someone or were family of anyone who died in the Westdene Bus Disaster, you would probably regard yourself as much a survivor as the actual survivors who escaped from the bus with their lives.
The disaster was very traumatic for everyone involved, directly and indirectly. There are some survivors who still refuse to talk about that dreadful day. There are also reports of suicides in the months and years following the tragedy.
On this page, I have included the names of some of the heroes of the Westdene Bus Disaster. There are undoubtedly dozens of individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty on that day, most of whom will never be known or thanked. I have included some newspaper scans of interviews with heroes, and there are also a few moving mp3 podcasts of interviews with survivors by Solidariteit Radio.
Awards for Bravery – The Heroes
The Wolraad Decoration for Bravery (Gold and Silver) were awarded in the wake of the Westdene Bus Disaster.
Woltemade Cross for Bravery, Gold
Koen, Petrus Lucas received the Wolraad Woltemade award posthumously. The 17-year-old drowned after rescuing his cousin and five fellow school pupils.
Du Toit, Daniel Sarel, aged 14, dived back into the water three times and saved three lives.
Mahner, Alfred who drove to the site, jumped into the water and helped several children to safety and assisted the fire brigade to attach cables to the bus.
Opperman, Gotlieb Rudolf, aged 15, was rescued in an unconscious condition from the bus after jumping back into the water three times to rescue children.
Scheepers, Petrus Johannes Joubert helped children struggling to stay above the water to get onto the roof of the bus. He then swam into the bus and helped a girl to the surface. He returned twice to look for more children and later nearly lost consciousness and had to be helped out of the water by a bystander.
Woltemade Decoration for Bravery, Silver
- Alexander, William Robert – rescued children
- Botha, Johannes Jurgens – rescued children
- Bouwer, Izak Zierk – rescued children
- Brodie, James McKenzie – rescued children
- De Kooker, Bernadus Theodorus (aged 17) – rescued fellow pupils
- Gordon, John James (aged 15) – rescued fellow pupils
- Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen, Ockert Machiel – rescued children
- Lourens, Dirk Johannes – rescued children
- Nell, Kenneth Roy – rescued children
- Roelofse, Adriaan Christiaan – rescued children
- Schuman, Lucas – rescued children
- Steyn, Petrus Jacobus – rescued children
- Swanepoel, Christiaan Jacobus – rescued children
- Van Aswegen, Willem Herklaas (aged 14) – rescued fellow pupils
- Van der Walt, Gert Albertus – rescued children
- Van Deventer, Catrina Jacoba (aged 17) – rescued fellow pupils
- Van Lelyveld, Martin Ernest (aged 17) – rescued fellow pupils
- Van Wyk, Stephanus Johannes (aged 17) – rescued fellow pupils
- Viljoen, Coenraad Rudolf (aged 15) – rescued fellow pupils
- Waldeck, Petrus Gerhardus (aged 14) – rescued fellow pupils
- Wehmeyer, Matthys Louis (aged 17) – rescued fellow pupils
As with everything in life, there is always a twist. I came across an interesting (unconfirmed) piece of information. It is mentioned on the Krige family website that one of their clan, Raymond Krige, was awarded the Wolraad Woltemade decoration for bravery, but that the award was withdrawn when he disappeared.