Persistent rains that hit most parts of the Southern Region recently have left an indelible mark on many households who have lost relatives and property.
James Kaliyekha, 50, his wife Mercy and seven-year-old daughter Hilda of Kantukule Village in Mpemba, Blantyre, were buried under part of their house for about four hours in the early hours of Thursday, February 14 2013 when a wall collapsed on them as they slept.
The husband did not make it out of the rubble alive as rescuers found him dead.
Mercy, 41, on Thursday this week described her husband’s last moments as they lay buried under the rubble.
It was at about 10pm when the family awoke to a rumbling sound. Within minutes, the family lay under their own house as bricks trapped them.
“My husband asked me to shout for help as he was buried, but my efforts were in vain. Meanwhile, our daughter was trapped by his body on one side and she kept crying as she could not move although she too was not entirely covered by the bricks,” she said.
Eventually, they were resigned to their fate. Mercy said her late husband told her: “ingosiyani chili chonse chichitike” [You may as well just stop shouting for help. Let it be].
Mercy said it was from sheer luck that as they lay motionless, one of her sons who slept in a separate house came by to check why they were still praying so late because he mistook the shouts for people praying.
That was when he discovered the tragedy and alerted neighbours, four hours after the house collapsed. It was too late to save her husband.
Mercy was immediately taken to Mpemba Health Centre in the early hours, but said she was attended to at about 7am and was given a pain killer as the body of her late husband lay at the village awaiting police.
Police later came with medical personnel and certified him dead.
From late December 2012, heavy rains and storms led to flush floods, causing loss of lives and destruction of infrastructure in many districts.
An update on reliefweb.int said four people died as a result of the floods, with the Southern Region being the most affected.
The website said 12 877 households had been affected by the rains.