Parents, baby take refuge in tree

2013-01-23 00:00

ALLDAYS — A couple and their three-week-old baby sat in a tree for a day before being rescued.

Xander Mokwena (43), his wife, Sakhile Tlou (33) and their baby, Hawelo, were at their house on a farm near Pontdrift, Limpopo, when floodwaters hit on Sunday.

The Kolope and Limpopo rivers converge on the farm, said owner Saul Sematla.

Mokwena said that when the water in their house rose to hip height, he knew they had to leave.

“We ran through the water and climbed a tree. We sat in the tree for a day before the helicopters came and rescued us.

“The baby didn’t cry. She just slept peacefully,” he said.

Sematla said his cattle and goats were swept away.

He said that when the water rose, some people climbed trees and others climbed on farm machinery or fled to koppies.

The couple were also nervous of hippos.

When the farm residents were airlifted to safety, Sematla’s son, Joe stayed behind on a koppie, ready to tell his father when it was safe to return.

Meanwhile, at least 10 people have been confirmed dead in Limpopo and three Botswana border posts remain closed, although it has stopped raining and dry weather is forecast in both countries for the next two days.

AgriSA’s Theo de Jager, who farms in the Tzaneen district, said that while the damage was severe, it was not as bad as that caused by the 2000 floods when the rainfall was also about 300 mm more.

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