Her children and the Chabane family elders are scared to tell her that her “favourite” son and two bodyguards – sergeants Lesiba Sekele and Lawrence Lentsoane – died in a car crash in the early hours of Sunday on the N1 between Polokwane and Mokopane.
Initial reports suggested a Nissan truck, travelling towards Pretoria, was in front of Chabane’s vehicle when it allegedly made an illegal U-turn on the highway. “She does not even have an idea of what is happening,” Chabane’s older brother, Pat, said yesterday. “We are scared that if we break the news to her, we might frighten her and escalate her health condition.”
“Please and very please, don’t take her pictures or interview her because she is not in a good condition. We do not want to abuse her.”
Chabane was the seventh of the 11 children of Elisabeth and Etienne, a former local school principal. The Chabane clan stretches from Malamulele to Mozambique. Collins’ younger brother and family spokesperson, Percy Chabane, confirmed yesterday that the family had yet to break the news to their mother. “We are just afraid that if we tell her we might lose her too,” Percy said. “She is too old and maybe she can collapse if we tell her.” Percy said even if the family break the news to her, she would not accept it because she loved Collins so much.
However, Percy said their mother would be taken to the gravesite during the funeral on Saturday. Several residents who spoke to The Citizen described Elizabeth as a down-to-earth person with a great sense of humour. Residents wanted to see her children succeed in life.
Meanwhile, the dusty streets in the far-flung village of Xikundu were being swept yesterday. A huge marquee had been set up at Chabane’s father’s house to house high-ranking officials and mourners attending the funeral on Saturday. Security was also beefed up as police were noticeably patrolling the village and surrounding areas.
Public Works workers were also fixing potholes on the road between Giyani and Malamulele leading to the village. The road will be used by cabinet ministers, MEC’s, dignitaries and ordinary people on their way to the funeral on Saturday.
The truck driver, Amukelani Rikhotso, 30, was allegedly over the legal blood alcohol limit and was arrested at the scene of the fatal accident. He appeared in the Polokwane’s Magistrate Court on Tuesday, facing three counts of culpable homicide, and charges of reckless driving and drunk driving. Rikhotso was remanded in custody. He is expected back in court on April 10.