A walk to buy sweets at the tuckshop led to the death of Amukelwa Mohammed (4) who was electrocuted by one of Msunduzi’s electricity transformers in Thembelihle informal settlement near Eastwood.
She was with her three cousins when the incident happened on Tuesday afternoon. Her mother, Luyanda Zakwe, rushed her to the Northdale Hospital but it was too late to save her.
Amukelwa’s grandmother, Nontokozo Zakwe, said the children were on their way back home and the four-year old was walking behind her cousins when she shook and collapsed next to the transformer.
She said the transformer is one of several placed along roads or in people’s gardens around Thembelihle without a fence around them. “Her cousins say she must have stepped on one of the metal plates that are protruding on the side of the transformer. One of them picked her up and carried her home.
“I put her on the bed while we called her mother. Her eyes were open but all I could see was the white part and no pupils but her body was still warm and I could feel her heart,” said the grandmother.
Luyanda told The Witness about how she prayed to God “to give her a princess” before she fell pregnant at the age of 25. She said she was thrilled when the doctors told her she was having a girl.
“I call her muhlezi wami (my pretty one) … She is my gift from God. I taught her how to pray and thank God for her life from a young age so every night she was the one that used to remind me to pray before we slept,” she said of her only child.
Councillor Sox Dlamini and Deputy Mayor Manilal Inderjit went to pay their respects to the Zakwe family yesterday. Dlamini said he has asked the municipality to put fences around all the transformers so that no more lives are lost.
“When this happened I called the officials to come and see what has happened, but they refused to take responsibility. They said they will wait for the post-mortem results to confirm how she died but I think it’s very clear what happened here,” said Dlamini.
Inderjit said the municipality cannot run away from taking some of the responsibility because their transformers are not only on the ground but also close to the roads and highly exposed, which makes them unsafe even for adults.
“This is a big loss for the family and we want to say we are sorry … If there’s a potential for a fault and responsibility to lie fully on the municipality, the family must pursue that avenue.
“No money is going to bring back a child but I think it will send a strong message that inferior installation of infrastructure should not be tolerated,” he said.
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He said transformers should be installed in a way that people are not able to touch or easily access them. He said the technical team will come to Thembelihle do an assessment as well.
“We can’t shy away from the facts — as the municipality the service that we are giving must be of the highest standard throughout because we are playing with people’s lives with the electricity. Where officials have done wrong they must be held accountable.”
Residents told Inderjit that other people and cattle have previously been shocked by the same transformer, but fortunately none of them died.