Two of the four bodies of Mochatso children were found trapped some kilometres downstream following an incident of the children being swept away by a river in the Leribe district.
A would-be joyous shopping expedition ended up as a heart-wrenching reward for the Mochatso family as four of their members drowned in a gorge on their way home after getting family provisions.
The accident is one in a number of sombre accounts of families suffering the consequences of torrential rains that have been pelting the country for the past couple of weeks, creating more harm and pain than good, in line with the Sesotho adage that “pula ke mahlopha-a-senya” (loosely translated to reflect that rain bears both the good and the bad consequences).
Two corpses identified as those of the 28-year-old woman and the 7-year-old boy are reported to have been found and fished out from the Hlotse River, trapped downstream in the Lisemeng village.
Menkhoaneng CO5 Community Councilor Masekila Mochatso, who is also member of the family, narrated that … ‘the incident hurts and pierces their hearts worse than a dagger darting through the body as they have to come to terms with the loss of not one, but four members who were still so youthful, and in their prime that they as family still had so much hope and aspirations about their lives.’
The Leribe District Administrator (DA) Mohlophehi Mohobelo in an interview with this publication, said the two young women aged 18 and 28 were on their way home from Botha-Bothe where they were grocery shopping.
After alighting from public transport, they had called home for a means of transport to get them through the distance which would have otherwise been a harsh two-hour hard walk, a call which was answered in the form of an oxen-drawn farm cart, which was being driven by a 7-year-old boy with another aged 18.
He said voyage had to pass through a shallow water valley which the lads had successfully passed to the other side and were able to load the provisions onto the cart, and also carried the shoppers along on the ride.
Mohobelo described that when the cart was in the middle of the gorge, a huge water wave came from upstream and hit the cart to an immense capsize, washing all the occupants into the now-massive waters and they began to drawn.
All the occupants together with one of the oxen were washed downstream into a river drowning while, the other ox was trapped caught in a thicket with the yoke still intact onto the cart and its neck hence strangulation.
Chief ‘Masempe Selebalo, who is also the chairperson of the Menkhoaneng CO5 Council on the other hand said she had received the news in the evening around 7pm on the Saturday, (day of the incident) and immediately informed the police requesting assistance.
She mentioned that on Sunday morning she was told that the police divers had begun searching for the bodies following leads of people in adjacent villages to where the river snaked past some of whom had begun saying they had spotted two lifeless bodies floating as the river washed them downwards on its way.
Selebalo further protested that if those responsible for service delivery had carried out their responsibility of building roads and bridges in the neighbourhood, none of that would have happened, as he urged government through the responsible ministry to fast-track answering to their service needs to prevent such kinds of catastrophes from happening further.
In the past couple of weeks, the country has experienced unprecedented amounts of torrential rains which have gone beyond moisture preserving benefit and become a nuisance washing away roads, bridges, fields and drowning people, animals and even vehicles.
The Disaster Management Authority (DMA) mentioned that there is a lot of damage caused by the rains and they are now working on the costs of the damages so they can start working on helping those left in dire need as result of the rains.