One child dead and several people injured in Bloemfontein storm

Hundreds of people in Phase 6 location lost most of their belongings and now have to rebuild their homes

By Becker Semela

8 December 2023

Bloemfontein’s Phase 6 residents Mamoroesi Khethanyane, Adelise Mosala, and Julia Moeng (sitting with her eight-month-old baby) with their remaining belongings after their shack was completely destroyed by a storm on Wednesday night. Photos: Becker Semela

Mangaung Metro Municipality’s disaster management teams have been on the ground in different parts of Bloemfontein to assess damage after a storm killed a seven-year-old boy and injured several other people.

The storm hit on Wednesday night, causing significant damage to brick homes and levelling hundreds of informal ones, leaving many without a place to sleep. The storm also left communities without consistent power as electrical infrastructure was damaged. Many formal houses were left without roofs. Electrical poles and trees were uprooted and shacks were torn apart.

According to Free State health department spokesperson Mondli Mvambi, a seven-year-old died from a head injury during the storm. Mvambi said that other patients admitted to the trauma unit of Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital included a 10-month-old, and another seven-year-old whose leg was injured. Both children were released after being treated. Three adult women also had minor injuries.

Moleboheng Makhetha told GroundUp that she was huddling behind her shack with her two children when they saw her neighbour’s seven-year-old son being hit by a flying sheet of corrugated iron. She said an ambulance was called but there was nothing they could do to save the boy.

“His mother was not home, and he was playing with my children outside before the heavy rain started. He ran for cover and was hit by corrugated iron on the neck,” said Makhetha.

Julia Moeng, who has an eight-month-old baby girl, said she was sitting on the coach when the four walls of her shack were lifted by a strong gust of wind. “I thought I was dying with my baby, and I still need to see the doctor after I get a chance to fix my shack,” she said.

Lechoko Lechoko from Phase 6 said part of his house had collapsed while his family of six were still inside. “I thank God for saving us. I do not know how we survived without injuries,” he said.

Municipal spokesperson Qondile Khedama confirmed that Disaster Management teams were still on the ground assessing the damage late on Thursday. “The City is working with the provincial Joint Operation Team to mop-up after the storm in various areas. Temporary accommodation at community halls will be provided to the victims,” said Khedama.

Lechoko Lechoko’s brick and mortar house collapsed and most of the belongings of his family of six were damaged while they were still inside. No one was injured.