Her five friends were not so lucky, and the struggle for survival of Thembeka Mgciwa, 9, was relayed to mourners during their memorial service on Thursday.
Little Thembeka sat quietly next to her grandmother Sorua Mabolawa during the service at a community hall in the township. The event was attended by people from all walks of life who went to express their condolences to the families.
Mabolawa, who spoke to the Pretoria News on the sidelines of the service, said her granddaughter was still traumatised after what transpired on that fateful day.
“Her mother told me she is having sleepless nights. She says at night Thembeka wants to jump in her sleep. I think she is still traumatised by what happened. She needs counselling,” she said.
Mabolawa said Thembeka hardly spoke about her experience besides talking about the pain in her leg and hand. “She is still very young; she can’t really explain to you how she feels inside.
“She knows what happened, but can’t put it into words. She only told me she was scratched by the electric wires.”
Mabolawa said she recalled that Thembeka couldn’t move her small body because her leg was trapped under the lighting ring.
“She couldn’t move herself, just watching the dead bodies of her peers with their brains and blood spilled all over the place”
She said Thembeka was rushed to hospital after the accident, but was discharged the same night after a medical check-up and treatment. “I thought she had fully recovered, but now I am starting to think that doctors might have made a mistake. On our way to this memorial service she complained about pain in her leg,” she said.
Mabolawa harboured fears that Thembeka might not be able to play for a long time with other kids. “I think her leg still needs treatment,” she said.
The sombre memorial service was attended by ANC provincial leader and MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Paul Mashatile, who expressed his heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased.
Mashatile said: “We were shocked when we heard about the tragedy. Be strong in your spirit; we pray that God gives you strength.”
He then indirectly slammed mayor Solly Msimanga for his utterances that cable theft was at the heart of the problem that resulted in the deaths. “It is important that when something like this has happened we must investigate and not speculate because when you speculate you can’t fix the problem,” Mashatile said.
He warned that the problem could happen again if it was not fixed and commented that political organisations made undertakings to serve the people but tended to forget about their promises once they got into power.
Mashatile said he was told that a service provider appointed by the City of Tshwane to fix the problem did shoddy work. “We must appoint people who are able to do proper work,” he said.
Mapiti Matsena, leader of the ANC caucus in the Tshwane council, also criticised Msimanga for his statement regarding cable theft. “We must really have a thorough investigation to determine what happened. Don’t stay in your office and say the problem is cable theft,” he said.
He told the mourners complaints about service delivery were not attended to because the City executive took time to respond. “Communities rush to councillors when they encounter problems with services. They don’t know that after reporting the report the councillor speaks to the MMC and the MMC drags his or her feet before fixing the problem,” Matsena said.
MMC for agriculture and environmental management Michael Mkhari said the City had accepted responsibility for what happened and would make sure it would not happen again.
He said the City designed a programme to repair all street lights and floodlights which had not been working for years. “The tragedy of this nature must never happen again,” Mkhari said.
Maikano Khoza, Lethabo Matibako, Kearabilwe Baloyi, Dimpho Bopape and Boitshoko Bopape will be laid to rest at Block P Cemetery at 8am on Saturday.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura is expected to attend.