“They are alive with the Risen Lord”: Southern African Catholic Bishops on 45 Batswana Pilgrims Who Died in Bus Crash

SACBC President, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka. Credit: SACBC

The 45 Batswana Easter pilgrims, who died following the Easter holiday bus crash are resting with the glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, the Southern African Catholic Bishops have said.

In an April 2 report by communication office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), the President of the three-nation Conference, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, says the fact that the late members of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) were Easter pilgrims is a source for consolation.

Easter, which ZCC members from Botswana “were coming to celebrate” in South Africa “is a meaningful event of our faith because in the darkness that characterizes our personal lives and the world, it communicates that God is not abandoning us and the world in the fate and consequences of darkness.”

While Catholic Bishops in Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa assure the bereaved of their spiritual solidarity, they pray that “the knowledge that they died on their way to celebrate the Lord of life who conquered death, and so even as they have died, they are alive with the Risen Lord” becomes “a source of consolation.”

The bus that had ZCC members on board was on its way from Botswana to Moria, a South African town located in Northern Limpopo Province where a popular annual Easter festival takes place.


The driver reportedly lost control of the bus that had 46 pilgrims on board, veering off the bridge near Mokopane village; he crashed it into a ravine before the bus burst into flames. Eight-year-old Lorraine Atlang Siako was the only survivor.

In the April 2 report, SACBC members decry the fatal bus crash, saying, “One human life lost is one too many, to say nothing about 45. We feel the pain of the relatives who have lost their loved ones and with tragedy, we assure that we are with them in spirit.”

Those responsible for the March 28 bus crash “must be held accountable”, they say, adding that if the crash “was due to a natural unavoidable accident, there is nothing that can be done about it, but if it is due to negligence about the physical and mechanical state of the bus, the tiredness of the driver (who is among the deceased) or any other negligence, those responsible must be held accountable.”

In the report, SACBC leadership goes on to reflect on Easter, saying, “The Risen Christ is urging us on that though the world is dominated by attitudes and dispositions of selfishness and injustice that lead to many people being subjected to abject poverty, loss of human dignity and resulting in the oppression of others and wars in which so many innocents are killed, with Him alive, this is not the end.”

“With the Risen Christ, we celebrate the certainty that the values enunciated in the beatitudes and the supremacy of love will prevail. The devil who rejoices at the destruction of people through sinful life that makes them live below the standard of their dignity will not prevail and the oppression and abuse of the poor will come to an end and a new heaven, and a new earth will come to fulfillment,” SACBC leadership is quoted as saying in the April 2 report. 

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In an April 1 statement, officials of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) condoled with the people of God in Botswana following the fatal bus crash. 

“May the Lord comfort you all at this time of mourning, and may you all experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit - our Comforter,” officials of the Council that includes SACBC representatives said.

South Africa’s Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, has been quoted as saying that the process of identifying and repatriating the bodies was ongoing. 

Meanwhile, Lorraine Atlang Siako, the sole survivor of the bus crash, was reportedly discharged from hospital on April 3, and she is back to Botswana.

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