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South Africa: Support for crash victims’ families after appeal on Facebook page

A Ballito businesswoman said she has been “overwhelmed” by the support of residents wanting help the surviving victims of the horrific taxi-train accident earlier this week.

Jessica Galloway, touched by the catastrophe on Monday evening when a minibus taxi plummeted down an embankment only to be hit by an oncoming MetroRail train near the Shaka’s Head N2 offramp, began a Facebook support group called Helping Hands Ballito just hours after the accident. Since then she has been inundated with phone calls and donations.

“I now have no space to store stuff. I have been so blessed. I want to help the children affected by this accident. I am led to believe that some of them may have been orphaned by the crash.”

The mother of an 8-week-old boy and 1-year-old girl who runs an au pair company, said the Ballito residents she has spoken to have been “heartbroken” by the fatal crash.

“The Helping Hands Ballito is just a community-driven group. I am not even having to source the stock. People just keep bringing it in.”

Admitting she is a novice in the charity game, she said her only intention is to help. “I love children. I am hoping to get to the families as soon as possible and hand over the donations. Ideally I would like to provide food and clothing parcels for as long as is needed.”

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On Wednesday she said she helped a man, with a 7-month-old daughter, who had lost both his wife and older child in the accident. On Thursday she put out a notice for baby formula and nappies. Hours later it was donated.

“After the accident was posted on a local community-based Facebook page Meet your Neighbour Ballito, various people expressed their sadness and showed a willingness to want to help. I started a page Helping Hands Ballito and did not even start sharing the page. Since then I have been overwhelmed by the support of the community,” said Galloway.

Already the page has had more than 400 views.

Accepting only clothes and food, she said she is not taking cash donations as she is just a person wanting to help and not an NPO.

Galloway said she is “feeling her way” around and is being supported by a local NPO as well the Helping Hands Fields Hill group, which was set up in the aftermath of the Fields Hill Tragedy in 2013 in which a truck lost control and veered into a busy intersection, killing more than 20 people.

On Thursday there was a memorial service was for the victims of the train accident at Groutville Sports Stadium.

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