Man lauded for saving five kids, including baby, in KZN mega-storm

2017-11-03 22:11
Siphesihle Mthembu saved five kids, including a 6-month-old baby, during the heavy storm that hit Durban in October. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

Siphesihle Mthembu saved five kids, including a 6-month-old baby, during the heavy storm that hit Durban in October. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

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Durban – The Zulu name Siphesihle means a beautiful gift when translated to English. 

A young man lived up to his name and gave five drowning kids the beautiful gift of life, when he saved them from a storm that battered Durban in October.

Siphesihle Mthembu, 20, from D-section in Umlazi, south of Durban, has been hailed a hero following his bravery during the heavy storm that left a trail of destruction and 16 people dead.

Mthembu risked his own life during the flash floods on October 10, to save the lives of five local crèche children.

They were under four years of age, with one as young as six-months-old.

Mthembu, who matriculated last year at Makhumbuza High School, on Friday told News24 that he was at his neighbour's house when the severe storm began.

"When I noticed that my neighbour's house was flooded with water during the heavy rain, I decided to go home. While on the way home I noticed a six-month-old baby floating in a pool of water at a neighbouring crèche’s yard. The crèche is next to a river," he said.

"I didn't even think about my own life but just jumped inside the water without even taking my clothes off. I took the baby to safety and jumped inside the water again, which had begun to spill onto the road, to save three other babies," he said.

'Chest-high water'

Mthembu explained that some of the kids had already been swept away by the strong floods when he went after them.

He said the kids were also at risk of being electrocuted as there were live electric cables that had begun falling into the water.

Mthembu said he "unfortunately" was not able to save a sixth kid who was swept away by the "chest-high water".

"The 18-month-old kid's body was found at E-section last Wednesday," he said.

Mthembu, who stays with his family, said he was at home that day because he had been unable to carry on with this year's studies due to a lack of funds.

The humble man was honoured for his heroic efforts at a provincial government breakfast on Friday.

His heroic act and bravery has earned him a R70 000 per annum scholarship from Absa.

Dante Mashile, Absa head of marketing in KZN, said the scholarship allowed Mthembu to study a course of his choice.

"The scholarship will cover his tuition fees including accommodation and meals," said Mashile.

National retailer Pick n Pay gave Mthembu a laptop for his heroism, while the KZN department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) revealed that they will offer Mthembu an internship while he studies.

Read more on:    durban  |  weather  |  good news

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