Lightning kills five members of Bergville family

2011-03-11 00:00

SIX people — including five from one family — were killed by lightning in Bergville on Wednesday night.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Nomusa Dube and disaster management experts visited the area yesterday, and vowed to intensify their public awareness campaign on the dangers of lightning.

Five Mdluli family members died at Mahlwazini village and 31-year-old Mfundo Mngomezulu was killed in the village of Maswazini, three kilometres away.

A Cogta spokesperson, Vernon Mchunu, said that at the Mdluli home 37-year-old Busisiwe Mdluli died along with four children still in her arms at about 6 pm.

He said the survivors in the family are grandmother Madladla Mdluli (75), four-year-old Phe (who was out of the house at the time), and two siblings who were present and suffered injuries that put them in hospital.

The father, Mangwane Mdluli, learnt of the tragedy while at work in Gauteng.

In a press release Mchunu said that while speaking to Dube at the scene, little Phe said he had been sent to a nearby tuckshop earlier and when the storm started, he was too scared to go directly back home and decided to take shelter until the storm subsided.

“As the storm ended, I saw billows of smoke at home and rushed back. I found many people at home wailing,” said Phe.

A mourning Mangwane Mdluli said, “They were all I had. Now I must start life all over again.”

“The sad thing was to actually watch them as they screamed. I couldn’t reach to them at the time, and then the roof started to collapse.

“I don’t know when and how I made it outside,” said the grandmother.

Dube said the KZN government will take responsibility for the funeral costs.

“We will also assist this particular family with food, blankets and any other items lost in the fire. We will also facilitate that the surviving children get counselling so that they don’t suffer any long-term psychological after-effects.”

Dube called on religious groups to hold hands with government as they pray and appeal for God’s mercy.

The Bergville incident brings to 20 the number of people who have been killed by lightning since November.

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