Westdene Bus Disaster Memorial: Westdene Dam

This page is in memory of those that perished, and were affected by the events known as “The Westdene Bus Disaster”

On the afternoon of the  27th of March 1985, a Johannesburg municipal schoolbus, carrying pupils from Hoërskool Vorentoe, left the road (Lewes Road) and plunged into the Westdene Dam. The events that unfolded as the bus sank and those on board tried to escape have become the stuff of legend, and this tragedy came to be known as the  Westdene Bus Disaster.

I was training apprentices when it happened, and the whole apprentice school was in shock. For me it was one of those unforgettable moments in my life.

The cause of the disaster was never really explained, although all sorts of  theories abounded and speculation has been rife ever since.

The sad facts are that 42 boys and girls died on that terrible day, the driver survived, but could never explain what happened. He was exonerated in the subsequent enquiry. The emergency exits in the bus were severely criticised as being almost unbreakable.

Westdene Dam
Westdene Dam

The memorial was finally erected at Westdene Dam in 2009, not quite where the bus left the road, but you can see the fateful spot from it.

The children were mostly buried in West Park Cemetery in a especially created area in the main road of the cemetery, two more were buried in private graves in the cemetery and two were cremated and one was buried elsewhere. Sadly the graves have been deliberately desecrated and today the plot still attracts the curious and flowers still get left behind by famly and those who remember the disaster.

The Westdene Bus Disaster Burial Plot
The Westdene Bus Disaster Burial Plot

The Westdene Dam Memorial can be found at  Google Earth Co-ordinates 26° 10.798’S, 27° 59.497’E, while the burial plot in West Park Cemetery may be found at 26° 9.662’S, 27° 59.646’E  You can also visit  The Wikipedia page on the disaster. or the  webpage dedicated to those who lost their lives on that fateful day.

The names of those that lost their lives:

The names are gleaned from the Memorial, physical graves and the register for West Park Cemetery. The plot theoretically has 42 spaces, with the front row being numbered 2-11, 12-20, and the back row 23-33, 34-42. Grave number 7 is a single grave shared by the Du Plooy sisters.  Images of the graves I posted at eGGSA

42 Anna Susanna Blignaut (14/07/71)   20 No grave
41 Rita Botha (13/11/68)   19 Madelein Ludick (30/03/72)
40 Hendrik Johannes Dreyer (21/09/71)   18 Denise Coetzee (02/03/69)
39 Karin Erasmus (02/02/69)   17 Catarina Maria Meyer (Rina) 22/02/71
38 Jacqueline Hurwitz (28/01/72)   16 Jacobus Els (23/06/70)
37 Anel Jacobs (14/11/68)   15 Petrus Lucas Koen (Pieter) (19/08/67)
36 Lélanie Jooste (04/02/71)   14 Anne-Lize Botha (11/01/70)
35 Adré Kleinhans (10/03/68)   13 Andries Johannes Swart (Johan) (16/06/71)
34 Cornelius Mans (Neels) (23/11/70)   12 Francina Fritz (03/05/70)
33 Elmarie Marshall (29/12/68)   11 Francois Du Toit (22/11/70)
32 Belinda McLaughlin (26/12/69)   10 Mary-Ann Miles (16/01/69)
31 Tanya Pieters (27/12/69)   9 Vinette Swanepoel (26/02/72)
30 Connie Pretorius (17/02/68)   8 Clasina Kruger (Inalize) (01/10/68)
29 Elizabeth Marlene Pretorius (04/12/69)   7 Linda Du Plooy (03/03/70)
28 Hester Reynders (22/02/70)   7 Reinett Du Plooy (27/10/68)
27 Charl Strydom (23/11/71)   6 Elsa Van Heerden (31/12/67)
26 Annatjie Van Tonder (04/06/70)   5 Anna Jacoba Morris (09/09/70)
25 Petrus VD Westhuizen (Connie) (03/07/71)   4 Maria Catharina Kruger (Marietjie) (27/02/71)
24 Deon Venter (15/04/68)   3 Conrad Marx (26/04/68)
  Caroline Brown (08/01/70)
Elsewhere in Westpark
    Albertus Ouwenkamp (31/07/71)
Elsewhere in Westpark
  Adriana Horn (29/07/1968)
Braamfontein Crematorium
    Riaan Lira
        Thelma Buitendag
Buried in Orkney

© DRW 20011-2018. Created 12/08/2011.  Edited 02/12/2011. Moved to blog 06/02/2014, link recreated 07/03/2018

South African National Jewish War Memorial: West Park Cemetery. Johannesburg

Another little known Memorial in West Park Cemetery is the South African National Jewish War Memorial. The Memorial is situated within the Jewish Cemetery and is very close to the Holocaust Memorial. It is also very close to the Jewish Military Plot in the Cemetery at West Park. It is a quiet corner that I have missed seeing for a number of years.

The memorial covers both World Wars, the Border War, Defence of Israel, The Unknown Soldier, and the Six Million Martyrs.

It is possible that many of the names from the World Wars are also on the Jewish Guild War Memorial at the Museum of Military History in Saxonwold.

Dedication plaque
Dedication plaque


Google Earth co-ordinates are:  26° 9’56.47″S, 27°58’56.48″E. Images of the individual plaques are available on request.

© DRW 2012-2018.  Created 06/06/2012. Moved to blog 01/02/2014

Holocaust Memorial in West Park Cemetery: Johannesburg

This impressive memorial is found inside the Jewish Section of West Park Cemetery.   The creator of the Memorial, Sculptor Herman Wald (1906-1970) and his wife are buried close by in the Military Section.  The Memorial is dated 1959.

© DRW 2011-2018. Edited 23/12/2011. Moved to blog 22/01/2014