Gardener killed in mower accident

2009-02-19 00:00

A gardener was electrocuted while mowing grass in Pelham yesterday.

Walter Mbatha (55) was using an electric mower when he was electrocuted and died instantly at around 7 am, according to his employer, Dawn Bowen. She was at home at the time.

ER24’s Derek Banks said that when they arrived Mbatha was lying on the ground. “We … tried to resuscitate him. He was unresponsive. We performed CPR and when that didn’t work, we tried intubating him [to help him breathe],” he said. “We then used advanced emergency drugs. But none of it worked.”

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan arrived at the scene shortly after being alerted by patrolling officers. “When we got there, the paramedics had already declared him dead …”

Police have opened an inquest docket and a postmortem will be performed.

A family member of the homeowner reportedly tried to intervene when he heard Mbatha screaming, but he too suffered a bad electrical shock, said Jeevan.

The spares manager at Berry’s Mowers, Titche Koopman, offered a few safety tips for handling electric lawnmowers:

First, never use electric mowers in wet weather, if the grass is damp, or even early in the morning. “The safest time to use electrical gardening equipment is after three days of clear weather, from mid-to late morning,” Koopman said.

“Second, new standard mowers come with 25-metre-long cords. Only use extension cords if really necessary.” Koopman said cables should be fully unwound when in use, because the high voltage can cause them to burn out if they are on a reel.

“Third, do not use electrical equipment without fitted safety switches.” Such switches are fitted on most new gardening equipment, specifically to prevent accidents like Mbatha’s death, Koopman added.

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