The purpose of this visit was to join in the 40th Anniversary celebrations of the Luthern Brass Band in Okahandja, Namibia. The Ramatea Brass and Marimba Bands from Botswana also participated in the weekend's festivities. Their leader, Mr Schneider, founded the Lutheran Brass Band in Okahandja in 1963. Members of the Lutheran Brass Band started arriving later on the Friday and the opening ceremony was held on Friday evening. Most of Saturday was devoted to rehearsals with Albert Engel conducting the massed band. The festival took place on Saturday evening with the worship service being held on Sunday morning. The bands performed both separately and as a massed band on both occasions. A problem arose on Saturday evening when one of the Namibian regions that had rehearsed with us refused to participate in the festival because of a standoff with Pastor Isaak. The region accused Pastor Isaak of acting autocratically in changing the agreed programme in terms of which they were to play as a separate group. Although the dispute continued on Sunday, the worship service was a blessed occasion and the church was filled with heavenly sounds of brass music. We left Okahandja on Sunday afternoon, after a meeting at which the dispute was briefly discussed, and stopped in Keetmanshoop at the house of a former teacher of Reuben Talliard. There we received some refreshments and before leaving, we once again displayed or love for church music by singing, with Albert Engel accompanying us on piano. Amongst others we sang, "We have come into this place", "We are marching in the light of God" and "Friends are friends forever".
We all got out of the two minibusses we were travelling in at the border post, and we were able to spend few minutes having fun together whilst we were waiting. Little did we know that this would be the last time that we would spend together. After leaving the border, shortly before 03h00 on Monday, 8 September there was only one further stoppage when drivers were changed in the other minibus. We drove behind them for some time but overtook them when their vehicle lost some momentum on an incline. We then drove ahead of them and waited for them at the next town.
Our driver explained that they were driving very slowly and we therefore waited for them for a few minutes before deciding to turn back to see if they were experiencing any problems. On our way we encountered two ambulances rushing to what we believed to be an accident scene. Not knowing what had happened to our other minibus, this was a very scary experience for us. As we came around a bend we saw a truck lying on its side. We believed that this was where the ambulances were rushing to and expressed relief that our friends were not involved. The relief however only lasted a brief moment because a few metres further we saw the wreckage of our other minibus. Looking at the wrecked vehicle one knew that there was scant chance of anyone in the vehicle surviving the accident. On our arrival at the scene the SA Police officers who were already at the scene of the accident, confirmed our worst fears. At this stage some of the bodies were still trapped in the vehicle. In all we lost eight dear friends namely Albert and Jerome Engel (two brothers), Jacques Adonis and Gain Goodall (two cousins), Rone Morkel, Geoffrey Joemath, Randall Adonis and Mark Davids.
This was the biggest tragedy that ever befell the Moravian Church in South Africa. The entire church was stunned. The respective funerals were held in Cape Town on 12 September, in Bellville and Pella on 13 September and in Mamre on 14 September 2003. Most of the bands in BBSA were represented at these funerals, and it was heart warming to see how everyone pulled together.
The group from Port Elizabeth traveled back to Port Elizabeth on 9 September 2003 and then returned for the funerals. A group from the Lutheran Brass Band also attended the funerals.
Our friends died in the service of the Lord and we know they did not die in vain for the text for Monday, 8 September 2003, read "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it." Mark 8v35.