Fun-fear for Albersville family at amusement park

Seema Ramdhin of Albersville with her brother Arveen, daughter Yashna and her son, Yudeer say they have been left traumatised by the incident at a funfair in Marburg.

AN Albersville family has been left traumatised after a visit to a funfair in Marburg went horribly wrong last Saturday.

Seema Ramdhin (34), her daughter Yashna (5) and brother Arveen (17) boarded the ‘Big Wheel’ ride at the fair and, after it went around a few times, the basket they were in got stuck and did not straighten to stay in alignment with the circuit of the wheel.

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Ms Ramdhin’s husband, Kershen (38) and son, Yudeer (11) were in another basket on the same ride and watched helplessly as the drama unfolded.

“The ride continued and we ended up almost upside down. Arveen and Yashna managed to grab hold of the cart’s railing, and Arveen also kept a firm hold on Yashna. When the basket’s safety guard opened, I fell out and landed between the metal bars of the structure itself,” she said.

“I was screaming blue murder. All I was thinking about was my daughter. When I saw my handbag fall, I was even more terrified, thinking that my daughter had fallen. My family was also hysterical.

“They started the wheel again while I was hanging on for dear life. Kershen and people watching screamed and shouted for the ride to be stopped.

“The basket with Arveen and Yashna in righted itself and they were safe again, but two fair employees had to climb up the frame and help me back into the basket before bringing us down.

“The incident has left my family very traumatised and I believe I’m lucky to be alive. We thought that, as we were going on the safest and slowest ride, we would be fine. You see this kind of thing on TV and you read about it but you never think it will happen to you,” she said.

Seema Ramdhin’s body has been left bruised by the accident.

“I’m fine during the day but at night I battle to stop thinking about what happened. What if a child had fallen out?”

Sanchèz Chetty, of Tommy’s World Fair, said the funfair was KwaZulu-Natal’s oldest mobile theme park and had been in operation for 50 incident-free years.

“We take no shortcuts and the safety of our customers is top priority because, in our business, we cannot afford mishaps. All our safety files are up to date and our equipment is checked daily,” he said.

The ‘Big Wheel’.

Mr Chetty explained that the basket can only swing if a patron rocks the seat, but it’s impossible to tip it over.

“It can only have tipped if Ms Ramdhin’s hand was over the edge of the seat, or if her handbag jammed the seat, causing it to remain in an upright position, both of which Ms Ramdhin said did not happen.

“I was the first to run across when I saw what was happening. I took over from the ride operator and sent two of my men up the structure without any safety equipment as we could see it was an emergency.”

Mr Chetty said paramedics were called, but a decision was made to rather take Ms Ramdhin straight to the hospital.

“She was taken to a private hospital, accompanied by my site manager, and we covered the R6 000 bill,” he said.

The check-up revealed no fractures or internal injuries, but extensive bruising has left her in a lot of pain.

Mr Chetty denied that the ride had carried on operating after it became apparent there was a problem.

“That’s not true. I was there and so were many witnesses. It was stopped immediately and only after Ms Ramdhin and her family were safe did the ride continue. The decision not to close the ride was made because there was no mechanical fault found.”

He confirmed that there was a ride operator in attendance at the time as, he said, the ride was not automated and had to be manually operated.

“The safety gate was working. This ride is passed by an engineer every time we set up at an event,” he stressed.

The large sign on the ride asking patrons to keep their hands ‘inside the seat’ at all times.

Mr Chetty confirmed that the fair had permission from the municipality to be at the grounds as a fund-raiser for underprivileged soccer teams.

“Tommy’s World Fair has sponsored soccer balls and soccer nets for the teams, has offered free rides for a day to 100 orphaned children and is also involved in a food initiative,” he added.

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  AUTHOR
Shona Aylward
Reporter

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