Johannesburg - They were foaming from the mouth and lay motionless as heavy rain fell on them.

Around the two girls, horrified family members and curious residents gathered, trying to make sense of what had happened.

But the girls, struck by lightning while walking home from school, could not talk or move.

Their school uniforms were scorched by lightning and their bodies were covered in mud.

“Their eyes were wide open. I thought the girls were dead as I saw them on the ground,” Nombeko Tolashe said of Monday’s incident.

Her daughter Siphokazi had been walking through an open field between Glen Ridge and Protea Glen Extension 13 with Lindokuhle Cikiso and classmates from Protea Secondary School in Soweto when the lightning struck.

Tolashe said her son Thato had left the house carrying an umbrella to meet Siphokazi on her way home.

But a group of pupils who had witnessed the lightning strike were already making their way to Tolashe’s home when they bumped into Thato.

“They immediately told him what happened, and he rushed back home to tell me. We both ran to the field where people had already gathered,” Tolashe said.

She described the incident as a shock.

“We get to see or hear about such things in the news. These things normally happen in the rural areas,” Tolashe said, adding that her daughter had tried talking to her, but struggled.

What hurt the most was seeing 12-year-old Thato kneeling next to Siphokazi and trying to communicate with her.

“That was a painful moment. I couldn’t calm him down as I was emotional myself,” she said.

So horrified by the incident was Thato that he had to be treated for shock.

The girls were treated at two hospitals in Soweto, and Siphokazi has been discharged.

“I’m glad she’s home even though she’s still suffering from pains,” said her mother on Wednesday, moments after her daughter was discharged.

She now has to buy a new school uniform, but what mattered, she said, was that her daughter was safely home.

Meanwhile, two houses away from the Tolashes, Mduduzi Hlatshwayo and Bongiwe Cekiso were hoping that their daughter would be discharged today.

Cekiso said Lindokuhle was slowly recovering at a local hospital.

However, the mother feared that her daughter would walk on the same path where the incident had taken place.

“How is she going to react every time she walks back home?

“Or even when there is a storm while walking back from school?” said the mother in a soft voice.

[email protected]

The Star