“I shouldn’t be alive” – Survivor
These are the words of a 41-year-old ’Mathabang Chatsane of Ha Simione Makhaleng, Maseru, who escaped death by a whisker.
When Chatsane left her village on that fateful afternoon of Sunday 5 December, she had plans to make it to her destination in Maseru where she was going to run a few errands and return home.
Very little did she know that she would be stopped in her tracks, with only luck saving her from perish.
Speaking to the Lesotho Express, an evidently rattled Chatsane recalls how mercy rewrote her life when all other passengers whom she was travelling with were washed downstream a flooded Makhaleng River – all she could do was watch helplessly.
“I tried to stop the driver”
“I tried stopping the driver and persuading other passengers to alight the taxi before it went into the water. I was screaming frantically but the driver was just not prepared to open the door and let me get off. I started slamming the windows until he decided to stop because the tide was now getting stronger.
Immediately when the taxi stopped, I got off and snatched a baby from its mother’s lap hoping that she would follow me, but I was on my own and the water’s height was knee-high but still soaring before I got to the shore.
“In no time they were gone, I watched helplessly”
One of the men on board followed me and helped out two children to safety and as he tried to go back and rescue the others, he was swept away with them and there I stood watching helplessly crying for help, in no time they were gone and out of sight.
I am traumatized! I am having sleepless nights, I feel terrible and I am angry because I foresaw the danger and tried to persuade everyone to get off the taxi but they didn’t heed to my call. This is a reckless accident that shouldn’t have happened at all. I don’t think I will ever forget this.
I feel very lucky and don’t have enough words to thank God for saving me, it’s not that I was more deserving or smart than everyone else but maybe God had a purpose with my life, that his name be exalted in my life.
I fell sick, emotionally and physically. I am lucky to be alive.”
Matalenyane Ngaka – Father who lost two daughters
“My daughter is gone and so is my daughter-in-law and now I am left with these kids to take care of.”
Mr Ngaka (58) lost both his daughter and daughter-in-law.
“My daughter-in-law’s body has been found but my daughter has still not been found and I am not coping. This is killing me. She was only 26 and she has left behind her son who is only a year and six months. I nearly lost three of my grandchildren, two of them are girls aged four…and now I am going to have to take care of them.
As it is I am very distraught and traumatized about the whole incident and all my children’s clothes were washed away. I am going to need all the help.
Elia Ramashamole – Traveler and relative to taxi driver- Ts’epo
“The driver, who is also the owner of the taxi that was washed away, was my cousin and we had plans and had agreed that he was going to park his car at my place, but instead he had other plans.
“His other car had broken down earlier the previous day and he had send up a mechanic to attend it hence he felt the need to return the latter to his place and in the process loaded other passengers.
“I could feel that something wrong was about to happen”
“When he left, for some weird reason I felt scared, I could feel that something wrong was about to happen and I tried calling him but the phone went unanswered. I felt obliged to follow him. I told myself that if he crossed successfully I was going to follow him but before I could leave the house there were screams outside and I went out to see what was the matter; it was only too late, my cousin had made his decision to drive through the flooded Makhaleng River and people had died along with him.
“It was too late”
“I wanted to help and made a few calls to the police but it was too late because I saw some of them going downstream.
This accident could have been avoided because the Lesotho Meteorological Services had made announcements on the heavy rains and the Disaster Management Authority had warned people to avoid travel.