By Selma Ikela
Windhoek — A teary-eyed father at the informal settlement of Ombili yesterday recalled how he risked his own life to save his two-day-old baby boy, whose mother and brother were swept away by floods that gushed into their shack.
His son is all he could salvage from the ruins of a devastating wave and the girlfriend’s body was found washed up on the shores of a river nearly three kilometres from the shack, while his toddler son was still missing as of yesterday morning.
The incident happened during Monday evening’s heavy downpour in Windhoek.
Two days earlier, the family rejoiced when the man’s girlfriend Saima Thomas, 32, from Okambebe in Ohangwena Region, gave birth on Saturday. But with Monday’s wave of heavy rains, Thomas and her three-year-old baby boy Jackson Lukas Shindinge, residents in Abraham Iyambo section of Ombili location, were washed away. Nothing was left in what the father, Nehemia Shindinge, 30, once called his home.
Shindinge’s new-born baby, the only member of his family he could rescue, is currently in the care of Katutura State Hospital. His girlfriend’s lifeless body was discovered along the riverbed about three kilometres away from their shack on the outskirts of Havana informal settlement at around 09h30 yesterday in the morning.
The three-year-old boy is still missing and the police’s search continues.
The unemployed Shindinge, who lived at the settlement for 10 years, described his ordeal as he battled through the heavy rain to save his children and girlfriend. Shindinge said he has never experienced such heavy rain at the settlement before.
The sorrowful Shindinge, in company of a relative, watched from a distance as the police picked up the body of his girlfriend.
Shindinge tells this reporter that he had just finished cooking dinner for his family on Monday evening around 19h00 when it started raining.
After eating, the family of four went to bed and while sleeping Shindinge heard a heavy bang on the corrugate iron sheets of their shack. It was water that pushed through the zinc and gushed into their shack, lifting up their bed.
Clad in only underpants, he took their two children, carrying the new-born in his arms while carrying the older boy on his back.
“I told her (girlfriend) to go outside and hold on to a pole but the pole was uplifted by water and washed away with it. I was trying to go drop the children at nearby shacks and come back for her- I fell in a hole up to my neck. I fell in with the new born baby in my arms while the older one was still on my back. As I fell in the hole, the three-year-old was washed off my back the water,” recalls the father.
He swam holding his new born with one hand while the other holding on a fence that was supported by a pole.
“I eventually held onto a maize stalk that was strongly rooted and managed to get out of water. I left the new born baby at a bar and went back for the boy but I couldn’t find him,” stated the father.
The father, assisted by neighbours, then embarked on a search in the morning until the girlfriend’s body was found.
Yesterday Moses Garoeb Constituency Councillor David Martin donated 18 corrugated sheets, seven poles and six planks to Shindinge to rebuild his shack. Clothes were also availed for Shindinge to choose from.
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