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The young Pietermaritzburg father who died with his girlfriend and their two children in a lightning strike this week had told his mother earlier that if he died young he hoped it would be with his family.
His grieving mother, Debra Mlaba, said yesterday that when her son’s close friend had died earlier this year, Ndumiso Mlaba had prayed that if he were to die, his girlfriend and their children would also die “because they were all so close”.
And so it happened that Mlaba, 22, Ntombiningi Mbele, 18, and their children, Elihle, two, and 18-month-old Sinamele, were killed while walking across an open field on Tuesday afternoon.
The children were in their parents’ arms. The family, who lived in the Nxamalala area of Sweetwaters, were on their way to visit his parents.
Mlaba said that her son, who had completed his studies in human resources last year, had had a promising future.
Residents streamed into her home to offer condolences.
One said it was the first time lightning had killed anyone in the area.
About 3km away, Mbele’s family was also in mourning.
Her brother, Zakes, said the deaths were a shock. “To lose them, especially two kids, is not easy,” he said. His sister had been “very much in love with Mlaba”, he said, and they had planned to marry.
The MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube, asked all disaster centres in KZN to be on full alert in anticipation of lightning, flooding, thunderstorms and gales this coming summer.
“While we know incidents like this are orchestrated by forces of nature and no one can be blamed, we must always remain ready to… give support… when such incidents happen,” she said.
Her department would continue to educate people about the risks of natural phenomena like lightning.