Tragedy strikes

Two girls die af­ter be­ing struck by light­ning, boys rushed to hos­pi­tal

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - SIMTEMBILE MGIDI

The death of two chil­dren who were struck by light­ning while walk­ing through an open field in Aloe-T last Sun­day, is a sight Luvo Hlati will never for­get. He saw his daugh­ter struck, as well as two girls who died and two boys who were rushed to the Fron­tier Hos­pi­tal.

Po­lice spokesper­son Cap­tain Namhla Mdle­leni said po­lice had opened an in­quest docket af­ter four chil­dren were struck by light­ning. Mdle­leni said it was al­leged the chil­dren were on their way home from Sa­bata Dalindyebo when they were struck.

She con­firmed two girls, aged 12 and 15, had died on the scene while two boys of 11 and 12 were rushed to the Fron­tier Hos­pi­tal.

Se­sethu Hlati, 12, sur­vived the hor­rific or­deal and said she could only re­call be­ing on the ground.

Se­sethu was bring­ing sheep home, ac­cord­ing her fa­ther, who said the chil­dren had walked in pairs, with the girls in front and the boys be­hind them, fol­lowed by his daugh­ter.

Luvo said he was stand­ing near his gate watch­ing his daugh­ter as he had sent her to fetch the sheep be­cause a thun­der­storm was brew­ing. It had not yet re­ally started to rain although a few drops had fallen.

Se­sethu said she lost most of her vi­sion but she got up and ran to­wards home.

The fa­ther said the chil­dren seemed to know each other as they briefly spoke be­fore the four chil­dren walked past his daugh­ter. The light­ning struck where the four other chil­dren were, rais­ing so much dust that it be­came dark where the chil­dren were.

He said, “The light­ning scat­tered the chil­dren. My daugh­ter fell about 7m away from the oth­ers. The two girls who died, fell at the spot the light­ning struck. In shock, I walked to­wards the scene and a boy got up.

“He stum­bled and fell re­peat­edly, but after­wards he got up and ran to­wards Nk­wanca. I then saw my daugh­ter get up. She also stum­bled and fell be­fore run­ning to­wards me, shout­ing ‘Daddy, Daddy’.”

Ac­cord­ing to Luvo, he took his daugh­ter inside, af­ter which he went to the scene with other peo­ple. They found three chil­dren, a boy who was mov­ing and two girls whom he thought had died judg­ing by the way they lay and the in­juries he saw.

They stopped a pass­ing am­bu­lance which called for help. Swift ac­tion re­sulted in the boys be­ing rushed to hos­pi­tal within 10 min­utes. There were about five po­lice vans on the scene.

A shocked Mlungisi sta­tion com­man­der Colonel Gcinikaya Taleni who was on the scene di­rect­ing the foren­sics ve­hi­cle to where the bod­ies of the chil­dren were, said this was an un­com­mon tragedy in the area, but with the change of sea­son such acts of na­ture could hap­pen.

He sym­pa­thised with the fam­i­lies of the chil­dren, say­ing their losses were deep wounds, but they were hope­ful that the chil­dren who were rushed to the hos­pi­tal, would sur­vive and re­cover. By­stander Zakut­wani Fani said when they heard the an­nounce­ment about the in­ci­dent at the Lisolomzu Apos­tolic Church, they rushed to the scene be­cause one of the chil­dren at­tended the same church.

“This tragedy has deeply hurt us. We are shocked, but we have to ac­cept it,” he said.

Stan­ford Mpetshwa, who spoke on be­half of one of the be­reaved fam­i­lies, said the pass­ing of their daugh­ter had hurt them. They at first thought the tragedy had hit their neigh­bour, but then they found out that their daugh­ter had also passed away.

He said, “The po­lice told us our daugh­ter, Liyabona, had been struck by light­ning, so we went to Ko­mani Pathol­ogy and Foren­sic Ser­vices to con­firm it. Just the pre­vi­ous week­end we were re­joic­ing when our son re­turned from ini­ti­a­tion school. Ear­lier this year, we lost three fam­ily mem­bers in a car ac­ci­dent. 2018 has not been a good year for us and peo­ple shar­ing pho­tos of our chil­dren made mat­ters worse.”

He thanked the peo­ple of Ko­mani for their sup­port through mes­sages and prayers.

Swift ac­tion re­sulted in the boys be­ing rushed to hos­pi­tal within 10 min­utes

Pic­ture: SIMTEMBILE MGIDI

SAD SIGHT: The cov­ered bod­ies of the two girls who died when they were struck by light­ning lie in a tract of open veld near the Aloe-T res­i­den­tial area

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