THE government has declared the Ribaneng bus accident that recently killed 14 passengers and severely injured 22 others in the Mafeteng district a national disaster.
His Majesty King Letsie III and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane are also scheduled to attend a mass church service that will be held tomorrow at Ribaneng High School for the deceased.
A minibus carrying 36 passengers lost its brakes on a steep slope on 3 June 2018 resulting in the driver losing control and it fell off a cliff. Ten passengers were killed on the spot while four others died at Queen Mamohato Hospital in Maseru where they had been transferred for treatment.
The bus was travelling from Mafeteng to Ribaneng.
Six ministers on Monday visited the bereaved families where they announced that the state would assist in the burial. The ministers are Chief Thesele Maseribane (Minister of Communications), Matebatso Doti (Minister of Social Development), Temeki Tšolo (Minister in the Prime Minister’s office), Tsukutlane Au (Minister of Home Affairs) Leshoboro Mohlajoa (Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s office) and Motlohi Prince Maliehe (Minister of Public Works and Transport).
Speaking at a gathering in Ribaneng after meeting the bereaved families this week, Mr Maseribane said they would work together with the families and not dictate what would be done.
Area chiefs and community councilors were also part of the gathering.
“In as much as it is a national disaster, the government cannot act in isolation but needs to engage family members to hear their views on the government’s decision,” Mr Maseribane said.
“We are not here to dictate to you but to engage in discussions.”
Mr Maseribane said the government would not interfere in families’ traditional rites when they bury their loved ones. He said the government would remain committed to assisting the families to give their loved ones a decent burial.
He said the government would buy coffins, provide transport for the mourners and provide meals and carter for other expenses at the mass service.
“Some who may have funeral policies are also allowed to top up funds to purchase their preferred coffins.
“His Majesty has now taken responsibility since this is now a state assisted funeral and we are expecting him to be here with the Prime Minister and other top officials,” Mr Maseribane said.
He said since some of the deceased and the bereaved may belong different religious denominations, the mass service would be conducted by the Christian Council of Lesotho.
For her part, Ms Doti said: “We will come back to the families to see where how we can assist the families”.