Lightning knocks farm man down twice in less than a month

2009-12-02 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — It was Friday the 13th (of November) when lightning struck Martiens van Wyk for the first time. If you are superstitious, this would have been quite an apt day for such an unusual accident.

But then it happened again this Saturday, this time, simply at another spot along the game fence he’s helping to put up on the Grootbos farm in the Ventersdorp district where he lives and works.

When it happened the first time, Van Wyk (49) was sent flying when he was struck by lightning, but he was back on his feet again almost immediately. Farm owner Nico Tromp and other workers were nearby to make sure he hadn’t been seriously injured.

On Saturday, Van Wyk was on his own when it happened the second time, just after lunch, when he was blown off his feet by lightning. The storm still seemed far away to him … but the next thing he knew, it was near sundown.

“I had the pliers in my hand and a piece of wire. Steel wire is a funny thing. You should rather stay away from it if there’s heavy weather,” said Van Wyk.

When he regained consciousness, hours later, he was sopping wet from the rain and a piece of the fence lay across one foot.

“My head was crazy when I woke up. Next thing I knew, I was running away, first to the windmill and then to the storage room, so I could get my thoughts [in order] first.”

His legs were shaking and he could smell sulphur when he woke up. His hair “stood up straight”.

“It felt like I had shrunk [from the inside],” Van Wyk related.

Despite a stiff body and aching shoulders, he was in church the next morning. He feels the Lord gave him a second chance so he can see his seven children grow up.

His wife, Elisa, was very upset when she heard that lightning had struck him for the second time. She scolded him for being alone in the veld.

Tromp said lightning has struck cattle on neighbouring farms, but puffadders seem to be a far greater threat to Grootbos’s cattle, which are in Van Wyk’s care.

Only yesterday, just before the interview, he had to kill a rather large snake that scared the cattle where it lay sunning itself on a footpath.

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