FICKSBURG — A nine-year-old boy was crushed to death on Sunday when their house collapsed after a tornado hit Moqheleng, an informal settlement in the border town of Ficksburg, in eastern Free State.
About 120 people were left homeless following the devastating storm.
Motšehi Mkhekhe, the late boy’s father told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that Sunday had started off like any other normal day.
There was nothing unusual that could have prepared them for the disaster that was heading their way, Mkhekhe says.
But around 2pm, everything changed.
He was taking a nap when he was suddenly awoken by the sound of heavy rain pounding the iron sheets of his three-roomed Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) house.
This was no ordinary rain, he said.
Mkhekhe says he jumped out of his bed to check on his family when suddenly the walls to his house fell on him.
He fell into unconsciousness.
Mkhekhe says when he regained consciousness some few hours later at Phuthuloha Hospital in Ficksburg he was told that his son had died on the spot in the mishap.
Mkhekhe’s wife, ’Matjama, and two other children sustained minor injuries and were treated in a makeshift clinic which was set up at the settlement.
“I thought for a while that I was dreaming. I could hardly remember what had happened earlier. But I realised that I was no longer in my house. My face was burning with pain. “Then I knew that my little boy could not have survived what I went through,” Mkhekhe says as his bloodshot eyes started to well-up with tears.
When the Lesotho Times visited Meqheleng on Tuesday, Mkhekhe was just arriving from hospital to what used to be his home.
Friends and family members were keeping watch over his grieving wife.
She sobbed silently as her husband limped towards her.
“This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through. To have your child die like that hurts. My child died in my house where he was supposed to be safe from harm.
“I wish I was there to shelter them all from the bricks,” Mkhekhe said in a voice shaking with emotion.
At least 42 people were hospitalised after the tornado hit the informal settlement.
Those with minor injuries were treated as outpatients while others were kept in hospital.
The councillor for Meqheleng Ward 13, Motsamai Thamae, said the government, non-governmental organisations and individuals were providing temporary shelter, clothing and food to the residents.
“We have started to register the names of people who were left homeless so that the government can help build houses for them,” he said.
“We are still trying to get the right numbers.”
Free State Premier Ace Magashule visited those who were affected by the disaster on Monday.