Sweetwaters family killed by lightning

2012-08-29 00:00

A YOUNG couple and their two children were killed when they were struck by lightning while walking home in the Nxamalala area of Sweetwaters yesterday afternoon.

Ndumiso Mlaba (22), his girlfriend Ntombiningi Mbele (20) and their children Elihle (two) and Sinamele (two months) were in an open field when they were hit.

When The Witness arrived at the scene, the bodies of the four had been covered with blankets, with a crowd of about 50 people gathered. Police vehicles lit up the scene with their headlights as the sun had already set.

“Vuka Ndu! Vuka Ndu! [Wake up Ndu! Wake up Ndu!]” Ndumiso’s distraught mother Debra Mlaba could be heard saying as she was being comforted by relatives.

Mlaba’s neighbour, Noluthando Ndlovu, was in contact with the former Durban University of Technology student’s father, who was driving to Sweetwaters from Durban after hearing about the incident.

“He was crying when I spoke to him,” Ndlovu told The Witness.

She said Ndumiso was a good person who was helpful around the house.

“He was studying at the Durban University of Technology last year, but he came back this year and worked at one of the local bars,” she said.

Mlaba and Mbele had been “very much in love”, she said.

“He had spoken about marriage, and was planning to go to her family in December and ask for permission to marry her.”

Nonhlanhla Mbele, Ntombiningi’s mother, could not make sense of the sudden loss of her daughter and two young grandchildren.

“Why did I lose my children? What did I do?” she said in prayer. “You should have taken me instead. I might as well die,” she said as her family gathered around her.

Speaking briefly to The Witness, Zandile Mbele said Ntombiningi, her younger sister, was the third of four children.

Netcare911 spokesperson Chris Botha said: “Paramedics and the police search and rescue unit from Pietermaritzburg … found that a mother, father, girl and a boy had sustained severe burns from the lightning strike.”

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

AS spring begins, so does the lightning season around the country, said a forecaster at the South African Weather Service.

“There are safety precautions one can take in the instance of a lightning storm. One would be to get yourself indoors and avoid using telephones, except in emergencies, and touching metal objects,” Ezekiel Sebego said last night.

What to do

•Avoid using water.

•If you are caught outside, make sure you’re not the tallest object around.

•Don’t stand under trees.

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