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