The father of the south Belfast toddler who died after being struck by a vehicle in Newry over the weekend has paid tribute to his daughter describing her as a “very happy child”.
Two-year-old Tatyana Jinga, from the Four Winds area of south Belfast, died in hospital on Saturday evening after she was hit by a van in the Hill Street area of the city.
Speaking to The CT, Thomas Jinga said his daughter was due to start nursery school this week.
“She was supposed to start pre-school at the Oasis Early Years Centre on Monday (October 13) and was really looking forward to it,” said Mr Jinga.
“She was a very happy child, always smiling, and she had a lot of friends in the area.”
Mr Jinga praised the support shown to him and his wife Tariro, who are both originally from Zimbabwe, by the Four Winds community and friends and family.
“We have definitely had a lot of support from the area and from our friends and family,” said Mr Jinga. “We have also had great help from Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church where her funeral will take place tomorrow (October 14).”
The Jinga family had been travelling back to their Mount Michael Park home from an African cultural event in Newry in two separate cars - one with Tatyana, her mother and baby sister and one with father Thomas - when the accident took place.
During a brief car stop, the toddler spotted her father on the other side of the street and ran to him, but was struck by a van.
Sally Hegarty of the Oasis Early Years Centre in east Belfast said the team were “deeply saddened at the loss of Tatyana”.
“She visited the playgroup last week and really enjoyed herself,” said Ms Hegarty.
“We were looking forward to her starting with us on Monday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family at this time.”