Soldiers build bridge after flash flood kills six children in Matatiele

Parents and grandparents break down after being told searchers had found the bodies of four children swept away by a flash flood while crossing a river between Freystata village and Popopo Primary on March 7 2019..
Parents and grandparents break down after being told searchers had found the bodies of four children swept away by a flash flood while crossing a river between Freystata village and Popopo Primary on March 7 2019. Image: Daily Dispatch/Lulamile Feni

The army has been ordered in after six Matatiele children were swept to their deaths in a flash flood on Wednesday.

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the Engineer Corps would urgently construct a bridge over the Mgxojeni river in the village of Pontseng, which claimed the lives of children between the ages of 5 and 7 as they were walking home from school.

Witnesses said the victims were among 17 children who were caught halfway across the river when floodwaters suddenly arrived. All of them were swept away but villagers rescued 11.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Image: Tiso Blackstar archive

Mapisa-Nqakula said on Saturday that an assessment team had already been sent to Matatiele.

“The decision was taken following a number of requests to the minister of defence and military veterans for assistance by the affected communities.

“Subsequently, the South African Army’s Engineer Corps has put together a team that will make a determination as to what should be done in aid of the people … over and above the bridge to be constructed.

“This team of engineers has been building bridges in the rural Eastern Cape for a while now, therefore share a special bond with the northern part of the Eastern Cape.”

The children who lost their lives were in grade R and grade 2 at Popopo Primary in Popopo village, and were on their way home to Freystata.

Read more of the story on TimesLIVE

BY: DAVE CHAMBERS AND LULAMILE FENI

SOURCE: TMG DIGITAL

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