Mpumalanga to probe lightning deaths

By Drum Digital
22 November 2013

Mpumalanga government said it would look into the living conditions of construction workers following the deaths of eight men who were struck by lightning.

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"The conditions they are living in is not acceptable," director of public safety Selati Matlejoane said.

Nine people were killed in the province  by lightning. Eight of the people were killed while sleeping in a tent in Witbank.

Matlejoane said their response team visited the area after the incident and found that 14 people had been sleeping in a tent.

"Eight were already dead while six were taken to hospital," he said.

He said the men informed them that they were from Alexandra, Diepsloot and Soweto in Johannesburg and had gone to Mpumalanga for work.

He said that since it was a natural disaster, they could not point fingers at anyone, but something had to be done.

"The construction owner erected the tent for them on [privately owned] land. We need to investigate if by-laws were broken and if so, impose a sanction," he said.

Another man was struck by lightning in Middelburg on the same day. Police spokesman Lt-Col Leonard Hlathi said the lightning struck the man while he was walking with his child.

"He died immediately while his child was critically injured," he said.

An inquest docked has been opened.

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