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South African family who lost nine members in KwaZulu-Natal floods, still can’t come to terms with their grief



Effects of the devastating floods that ravaged South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province last month which left 435 people dead or missing, and destroyed properties worth millions of dollars, are still being felt as the country rallies from its worst floods in 60 years.

With mass burial conducted for the dead while the residents are still trying to come to terms with their losses, a family in Pietermaritzburg is grappling with losing nine family members including children as young as two years, who were swept away by the raging torrents.

In a report by BBC Africa on Sunday, the unimaginable tragedy that struck the Mdlalose family saw Slindile Mdalose, 43, and nine children aged between two and 10 years, including five of her own children who were killed in the floods, is one they are still to come to terms with.

“To tell you the truth, we’re crazy, we’re numb. We can’t use our heads. It’s even too much to comprehend,” the children’s uncle, Thokozani Mdlalose, said.

“The children were sleeping when the violent water passed through them, flattening their home. It’s been three weeks and some of the bodies have yet to be found,” Thokozani added.

“When you have to share your grief, you think of this, you think of that one. It’s too much. It’s hard to lose a person. It’s worse to lose two. 10 is something else,” he said.

The mass funeral for the deceased Slindile and her five children, Uyanda, Lubanzi, Ziyanda, Asanele, Lulama, was conducted on Saturday while the family is still searching for four other children who are still missing.

“Knowing that we haven’t found them, that they might be decomposing somewhere out there – words can’t describe what’s inside me right now. I can’t even gather my thoughts,” Thokozani said.

The children’s aunt, Nonkululeko Mdlalose, who also spoke of the family’s grief, said the last time she spoke to her sister on the phone hours before they died, she could tell her sister was scared.

“It was raining heavily, unlike anything they had ever seen before. Yet they did not expect it to lead to disaster.

“I’ve never felt this kind of pain. I thought I was a strong person but I realize I’m not, we’ll need help, I realize we’ll need guidance. It’s too much for anyone to bear,” Nonkululeko said in tears.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged more funds are needed than the initial $68m (£55m) set aside to rebuild KwaZulu-Natal and all that has been lost.

“It’s a long way to go for many people, from those who have lost their families to those who have lost their homes or their livelihoods.

“As the real picture of the devastation caused by the floods emerges, many will need all the help they can get,” Ramaphosa said when he visited the province.


South Sudan activists fight child marriage where girls are sold for cows



A group of South Sudanese activists have come together to fight against an obnoxious practice where young girls are auctioned off into marriage in exchange for cows, especially in some rural communities.

According to Jackline Nasiwa, the Executive Director of the Center of Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice, the practice had robbed many young girls of a future.

“The price of a daughter, determined in negotiations between her father and would-be husband, is typically 50 to 100 cows, each worth up to $1,000.

“A girl viewed as beautiful, fertile and of high social rank can bring as many as 200 cows. They sell their daughters so that they get something to survive. The younger the girl marries, the more the family gets cattle in return,” Nasiwa said.

“Poor families in South Sudan see laws against child marriage as barring them from profiting from thrir daughters and threatening their very survival, with only about 10% of girls finishing primary school because of factors including conflict and cultural beliefs.

“Some families worry that sending girls to school exposes them to dangers such as sexual assault that could lower their value when it comes time to look for marriage offers,” Nasiwa added.

Another girls’ right activist, Nyanachiek Madit, herself a survivor of the wife-for-cow practice, said she fought back when her father wanted to sell her off.

The 21-year-old Nyanachiek said she refused to be traded when her father said she would be married to a man about 50-years-old when she was only 17, because her family couldn’t afford to send her to school.

“I didn’t accept to get married because I am disabled and my education will be my ‘leg’ later on,” said Nyanachiek who was born with a congenital disorder.

She said she was convinced that schooling would give her a better life, so she stood up to her family and dared them to beat or even kill her.

Nyanachiek’s plight came to the attention of ChildBride Solidarity, which offers scholarships to girls whose parents abandon them after they oppose early marriage. With the group’s assistance, Nyanachiek now studies in South Sudan’s capital and is a very vocal voice against the practice.

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South African man bags two life sentences for brutally raping, murdering 29-year-old woman



A 40-year-old man, Hendrick Nicholas Hanse van Reinsburg, has been sentenced to two life sentences by a High Court for rape and brutally murdering a 29-year-old woman.

Prosecutors revealed that Van Reinsburg had, on 13 October 2019, brutally raped and murdered Andiswa Zitha, in her home in the Mjejane area of Mpumalanga.

The prosecutors said the victim suffered violence which was perpetuated by the accused, adding that after the accused raped her, he used a wooden object to pummel her several times before he fled the scene.

“Van Reinsburg left Zitha in a pool of blood after raping and brutally attacking her in her home in Mjejane near Komatipoort,” Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala, said while testifying.

“Zitha was found by neighbours who took her to Tonga Hospital but she was unfortunately certified dead the next day on 14 October 2019,” Mohlala said.

“The police opened a murder case with an additional charge of rape and worked tirelessly in their investigation with the hope to find the perpetrator. Their hard work paid off when they arrested the accused at a tavern in Kamhlushwa on 20 October 2021,” said Mohlala.

“The accused was charged and taken to court where he was convicted and sentenced to one life sentence for rape as well as another life sentence for murder. The court also ordered for the sentences to run concurrently,” the police spokesman said.

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