Dead bodies washed up in Leribe

HLOTSE — It was a horrific scene.

Seven graves were washed away in a landslide in Leribe’s Sebothoane village on Monday afternoon.

The landslide, caused by heavy rains that have pounded Lesotho for the past two weeks, tore away an area the size of a football pitch.

Yesterday relatives of the deceased and villagers were still battling to collect the remains of their loved ones for reburial.

Mabula Maseru was in a group of men that helped gather the remains of his father Jakobo Maseru and his brother Morapeli who were buried in June and September respectively.

Maseru’s grandmother’s remains were also washed away.

He said collecting the remains of his relatives was traumatic.

He said when he was told by villagers last Sunday that his brother’s grave had cracked he thought “it was just a little thing caused by the heavy rains that we could repair when the rains had stopped”.

But the following day he got a call from the village headman Sempe Molapo that the graves had been washed away.  

He said he was shocked when he arrived at the graveyard and found his father and brother’s remains fully exposed.

“It was a horrible sight. I could still recognise the clothes that they were wearing when we buried them last year,” Maseru said.

“That broke my heart. I was just healing after losing them. Now I have to dig them up. It breaks my heart.”

When the Lesotho Times crew arrived at the village yesterday shocked villagers were helping to collect the remains.

Headman Molapo said the incident was disturbing. Molapo said he was shocked by the scene.

“This is the most harrowing thing I have ever seen. We Basotho respect the dead so much and to have to dig them like this is upsetting. But we have been forced by nature to do it.

“I cannot wait for their reburial. I want this done and over with. I cannot rest until it is done. My heart goes out to the relatives who are reunited with their fathers and mothers in this way,” headman Sempe Molapo said.

The Leribe district health inspector Nthateng Mojaki said her office immediately rushed to the scene after they were notified by Molapo. 

“After we discovered that three of the exposed remains were still fresh we intervened as quickly as we could to remove them. They are a health hazard. We chose another side where the remains would be buried. The Disaster Management Authority donated seven coffins for the reburial,” Mojaki said.

Mojaki said there will a post-disaster counselling session for the relatives and villagers.

“This is a horrific scene. We are going to organise counselling for immediate family members and post-disaster counselling for other villagers,” she said. 

Molapo later confirmed to this paper in a phone interview that the remains were reburied in a mass grave yesterday.

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