Storm blows in death and destruction

2010-11-07 08:45

Mogalakane Leutle’s life will never be the same again.

The 61-year-old unemployed ­father and his family of seven – ­including two visitors – were about to go to bed last Sunday night when torrents of water swept away his shack within a few minutes. A visitor, Mma Makamane (59), was killed ­instantly.

The water flooded the shack and swept it down the river as if it was a boat – trapping its six occupants inside.

Leutle, his wife, Mmakanyane (61), their children – Tebogo (13), Thabang (10) and Rebotile (9) – as well as Makamane’s child, Lofta, were helpless.

The shack hit a tree about 100m away, turned upside down and everybody was flung out into the water.

Mmakanyane, Lotfa and Tebogo were trapped by the debris of fallen trees and fences which saved them from being swept further down the stream.

They survived.

However, with his hands wrapped around a trunk, Leutle was forced to watch helplessly as his two youngest children screamed as they were swept away.

“I just heard my daughter (Rebotile) screaming once and saying, ‘Aaahhh’, I knew she was dead. ­After the rain subsided, I ran to the headman’s house to report the tragedy,” said Leutle

“I then woke up at 5am and searched for Thabang’s body. I found it in the ploughing fields next to Maseleseleng.”

Mark Todd, spokesperson for the SA Weather Services, said the freak storms which wreaked havoc in Limpopo, parts of the Free State, the wild coast area, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng had been ­expected.

He said the thunderstorms in early summer were generally more severe than those later in the summer in terms of hail and damaging winds. “So, it is fairly typical to get severe thunderstorms that produce large hail and damaging winds at this time of the year,” Todd said.

On Monday morning, a day after the tragedy, about 400 ­villagers, municipal officials and police ­officers embarked on a gruelling search mission for ­Rebotile’s body. Armed with spades and wooden sticks, they combed through the bushes and streams within a 6km ­radius of her family house.

The desperate search ended on Tuesday morning when Rebotile’s naked body was found buried in the sand on Maseleseleng headman Ramphelane Kgaphola’s ploughing fields, 4km away from Marulaneng.

“It was a difficult mission. We had to cut trees, get inside the stream to dig out sand and scoop out the water and mud as part of the search,” said Emma Moloko.

Kgaphola, who used his tractor to rescue eight of the 15 cars trapped in his village alone, said he had never before experienced such floods.
“There were trees within a 100m radius on both sides of the stream in my fields, but they are all gone.”

Storms have ravaged ­Limpopo since last week, ­killing at least six people and causing more than R28 million damage to schools alone. ­Authorities said at least 111 ­mobile classrooms were ­urgently needed.

One family, the Thobejanes, lost an entire herd of 28 goats.

“It means hunger for us ­because we are unemployed.

“We sold the goats when there was a need and used the money to buy food,” said Lekgala Thobejane.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.