Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal mother has spoken of her despair over the death of her 9-year-old son who was struck by lightning during a storm that destroyed six houses and damaged 36.
Ayanda Mbeje died and his 2-year-old sister, Akhona, who was also struck, was blinded. The toddler is recovering in hospital.
Zandile Mbeje, 36, told the Daily News on Wednesday that she was with her five children at home during the storm in Richmond on Sunday afternoon.
She had called the children indoors at the first sign of the storm, but when it passed, they went back outside to play. Another storm erupted, sending the kids scurrying back inside.
“The second storm came back very hard. I just saw a huge red ball flying into the house very fast,” said Mbeje. “My eyes just went blank.”
She said her 11-year-old daughter ran out of the house and she followed her, but then she realised the others were still inside so she went back in.
“I saw Ayanda laying unconscious on my bed with his head facing (down). I realised he must have been struck by lightning and I held him on my back and went outside with him,” she said. “He was unconscious and frothing at the mouth.”
As the storm battered the area, Mbeje put Ayanda down and ran, hysterically, to her neighbours for help.
“He died while we were waiting for transport to rush him to hospital,” she said.
At the time, she had not realised that Akhona had also been hit, and was in a critical condition. The girl was taken to hospital.
Yesterday would have been Ayanda’s first day in Grade 4 at Mkhuzane Primary School.
“I was waiting for him to arrive at school today with other children, but now this,” said his teacher, Nosisa Dlamini.
Dlamini described Ayanda as a good pupil who was always quiet in class.
“I still picture him where he used to sit. He was very clever and even if he didn’t raise his hand in class, I expected an answer from him,” said Dlamini.
“He was very good, especially in mathematics.”
Mbeje broke down as Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube came by to personally extend her condolences.
The MEC also visited the other storm victims.
Bukisile Zondi, 74, who was injured when a wall unit collapsed on her, was discharged from hospital on Wednesday.
“She was unconscious and I said they should take my wheelchair and use it to take her to hospital,” said her eldest son, Dumisani, a paraplegic.
Dumisani lost all his medication in the storm as it was damaged by the rain.
At least 42 houses were damaged, including six that were completely destroyed.
Yesterday, the community was rebuilding homes with the assistance of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, which also arranged counselling for children at the local school.
The department and provincial government had arranged for temporary houses to be erected for the homeless, the distribution of food parcels, and for a lightning conductor to be installed near Ayanda’s home and the school.
The Richmond municipality undertook to cover the funeral costs.