Youth camp founder broke after accident claims teenage boys

Henry

“The boys were still naughty the night before. And if a child is naughty, then he is happy. They overturned each other’s beds and I was supposedly mad about it…”

So says Andries Erwee, founder of the Kalahari-Vasbyt, after a car accident on the way back from this famous challenge camp in Botswana claimed the lives of three teenage boys on Sunday.

A group of 32 teenage boys, all around the age of 16, participated in the camp for the past two weeks.

“I feel guilty,” Erwee told RNews on Tuesday. “I have been doing this thing for 38 years and for 38 years I have returned children who were left in my care safely to their parents every time with great pride. This is always my aim: to return a child safely and better to their parents.

“This year I took 32 and only brought back 29. I don’t call that success.”

Jean Conradie, Daniël Jordaan and Werner Oosthuizen were killed when one of four modified Toyota Land Cruisers with which the group of boys were transported from Botswana via Klein Kariba to Johannesburg rolled over in Limpopo on Sunday.

According to the Department of Transport’s initial accident report, the driver of one of the Land Cruisers lost control of the vehicle at 16:10 and the vehicle rolled.

Erwee says the car accident took place 80 km “on the other side of Lephalale before Vaalwater”.

He explains that the four Land Cruisers drove in a convoy. “I always drive in front and make sure that nobody drives too fast.”

Then someone in one of the middle Cruisers announced over the two-way radio: “Uncle, Uncle a car has rolled.

“Of course I knew immediately…” says Erwee.

He says that one of the boys was trapped under the wreckage of the vehicle shortly after the accident. Some of the boys helped lift the wreckage and the boy was freed from under the wreckage.

He died at the scene shortly afterwards.

Erwee says that the police were “extraordinarily competent and helpful” and cordoned off the scene upon their arrival. All boys were then kept at a distance of about 100 m from the scene. Vehicles were also used to block off the accident scene from bystanders.

RNews previously reported that Jean, from Somerset West, and Werner, from Australia, died at the scene. Daniël died of his injuries on the way to the hospital on Lephalale.

Two occupants spent the night in hospital, one of whom was the driver of the vehicle. The driver was initially kept in hospital due to shock but has since been discharged as well.

As RNews understands, Owen Botha, a gr. Year 11 student at Paarl Boys’ High School, one of the boys who survived the accident. According to the school, Owen did not suffer any serious injuries.

A British twin in the North West was also in the vehicle that rolled. The twins are “practically unharmed,” according to Erwee.

Werner’s brother went home earlier

Erwee says that Werner’s brother, who died in the car accident, also participated in the challenge camp with him before the accident. However, their grandmother died during the camp and Werner’s brother suffered and went home to attend the funeral.

Werner stayed behind.

“I never had sons of my own,” says an emotional Erwee. “Now I lost three while they were still in my care. This is terribly sad for me. That was not my goal.”

  • The group of boys would spend the night at Klein Kariba on Sunday evening before traveling to Johannesburg on Monday from where they would fly back to Cape Town. The surviving boys have meanwhile made it to the flight and are currently safe in the Cape.
  • Many old students who themselves participated in the Kalahari Fast in previous years, expressed their condolences at the airport in Cape Town on Monday.