Student electrocuted outside house

2012-04-02 11:16

Pietermaritzburg - A KwaZulu-Natal student has died after he slipped and grabbed a live electricity pole outside his home.

Mbongeni “Khehli” Hlengwa was returning home to Imbali after helping friends prepare for a wedding at Sweetwaters.

“We came back at about 23:45 to drop him home,” said his friend, Lindelani “Sgora” Mbanjwa.

“He jumped off [the vehicle] and walked towards the gate.

“It was wet and he slid. When he tried to get up, he held on to the pole.”


Mbanjwa and friends ran to Hlengwa’s aid after realising he had been electrocuted.

“We rushed him to Mbalehle clinic, not aware that he had already died.

“The doctor at the clinic told us that he was dead on arrival,” said a traumatised Mbanjwa.

Hlengwa, 21, was a marketing management student at the Msunduzi Further Education and Training College.

On Saturday morning Eskom workers started digging near the pole. Friends and family watched from a distance.

A Witness reporter at the scene observed smoke coming from the ground and smelt burning wires.

Metres away, inside the family home, Hlengwa’s mother, Nonhlanhla, sat on a mattress, surrounded by friends and neighbours.

Nonhlanhla Hlengwa said she wanted the electricity pole removed from outside her home.

“This is a painful moment for the family. We wish that Eskom would just remove it.

“Every time when I go out, I shall see it and be reminded that my last-born child died there.”


She said that she would miss her son’s cooking, cleaning and eating habits.

“He always enjoyed domestic work, but when it came to gardening he was lazy.

“He used to promise me that he would build a bigger house for me.”

Hlengwa’s brother, Smanga Mbona, added: “He was a dreamer and a hard worker who wanted to start his own business after finishing his studies.

“He was a person who was always positive about life and always made all of us at home laugh”.

Eskom spokesperson Joyce Zingoni said the utility was investigating the matter.

Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan said an inquest docket had been opened.

The police will investigate the possibility that Hlengwa might have been struck by lightning.

Hlengwa’s brother mentioned nothing about lightning when he spoke to The Witness.

  • Stille - 2012-04-02 11:25

    Illegal connections kill.....RIP

  • Sharon - 2012-04-02 11:31

    Shame! What a terrible way to die - I hope the municipality is going to look into this, so that it does not happen again.

  • Ryan - 2012-04-02 11:34

    "when it came to gardening he was lazy" VS "promise me that he would build a bigger house for me" - Mmmmm?

  • Mashudu - 2012-04-02 11:53


  • neilzim - 2012-04-02 11:55

    so sad

  • Johannes - 2012-04-02 12:04

    What kind of open pole connection is that. Eskom will have ti disturba ll the illegal connections.

  • Tony Lapson - 2012-04-02 12:07

    Just another preventable death had proper people be assigned to the job instead of tenderpreneurs who employ inexperienced staff with no proper supervision, and who don't finish jobs or deem an area 'unsafe'.

  • sally.lewitt - 2012-04-02 13:11

    RIP.. I feel another *cover up* surfacing as the electric pole was clearly to blame BUT now the SAP or looking into this untimely death of this young adult by *struck down by lightening* come ON.. Don't insult our intelligence!

  • Carina Welman - 2012-04-02 13:44

    Sue the minisupality and Eskom.

  • Olivia - 2012-04-02 15:47

    As night settles, Eskom and the Municipality's management goes to bed. As another young life in South Africa gets wiped out by our well-organised infra-structure. Sad, that one young man has to pay for the incompetence of a government that's corrupted to the core.

      J-Man - 2012-04-02 16:12

      Do you know who put that live pole there and WHY it was live at ground level?

  • Morne - 2012-04-02 15:55

    What a tradegy! It boils down to bad service!

      J-Man - 2012-04-02 16:10

      A "live pole" at ground level sounds a bit more like something illegal than bad service...

      Morne - 2012-04-02 16:28

      Even so, service was not done to prevent the illegal use of electricity. Sad, thou.....there are many people in SA that cannot afford the basic necessities and need to obtain it through illegal means, and the same goes for water!

      J-Man - 2012-04-02 16:54

      OK. Fair enough. Agreed.

  • J-Man - 2012-04-02 16:10

    A "live pole"? At ground level?

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