Mkhulu Madala Mabunda (69) was rushing home from tropical cyclone Eloise hitting the kasi of Thulamahashe and surrounding villages near Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it.
He has swept away as he was trying to cross the overflowing low-lying bridge in Mutlumuvi River, which cuts Kumani and Thulamahashe.
His sad grandson Caleb Mashaba (36) said mkhulu left home in Thulamahashe to visit a friend at nearby Kumani in the morning.
But got worried when the cyclone hit with heavy rainfall, and he was not coming back home.
“We became worried when the cyclone hit the kasi. And we thought he decided to spent a day at friend’s place and would come home later. But he didn’t. After the rain, we started searching for him together with the police, but with no luck,” said Mashaba.
He sad the later received a call from other residents that they recovered a man lying on the river bank.
“Upon arrival to the scene, we managed to identify him. But he was already dead,” he said.
Angry resident Hebron Nxumalo blamed the Mpumalanga department of public works, roads, and transport over mkhulu’s death.
“This deadly bridge on the river has long been eating our people. We reported it and asked the department to build a high bridge, but our please fell on deaf ears,” said Hebron.
The SunTeam tried to get comments from the department, but couldn’t.
Mpumalanga Cogta MEC Mandla Msibi said they recorded four deaths related to the heavy rains.
“A five-year-old boy was swept away by a stream of water at Masoyi in the City of Mbombela. A man (40) drowned in a local river in Pilgrim’s Rest, Thaba_Chweu, and a baby fell into a river at Elukwatini, Chief Albert Lithuli Municipality when her mum was crossing. Our heartfelt condolences go to the bereaved families.
Local dams and rivers are overflowing and we appeal to all our communities not to risk their lives by crossing them,” said Msibi.
Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said police warn the public to refrain from crossing or baptizing people or performing rituals in the flooded rivers or dams.
“Police are worried by these incidents because since the beginning of summer, a number of people drowned in different parts of the province and as result, police are appealing to the public to avoid the danger of getting into flooded rivers and dams. Parents are also warned and urged to look after their children moreover now that schools are still closed,” said Hlathi.
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