Lesotho soccer tragedy burials today

Salemane Phafane president of Lesotho football association. Pic. Lucky Nxumalo. © Sowetan.
Salemane Phafane president of Lesotho football association. Pic. Lucky Nxumalo. © Sowetan.

Sello Rabothata

Sello Rabothata

A set of twins, siblings and relatives were among those who died in the Ha Theko truck tragedy after an off-season soccer match on Boxing Day.

The tragedy, which plunged most of Lesotho into mourning, has shocked the football fraternity. The president of the Federation of International Football Associations (Fifa), Sepp Blatter, sent the world's soccer governing body's condolences to Salemane Phafane, president of the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa).

Nthabeleng Sefako, of Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosikili's office, who is co-ordinating the funeral arrangements, yesterday accompanied the families to the mortuary to prepare the dead for today's burial and said everything was going according to plan.

From the mortuary the families, relatives and other community members visited the site of the accident to pay their respects by placing wreaths. A cross, surrounded by painted rocks, was placed there soon after the accident that took the lives of 11 soccer players and 15 of their supporters, contrary to earlier reports by officials that 21 players had died.

Sefako said that Libe and Libenyane Makhang of Ha Lefa village were twin brothers, born 28 years ago. They were not players of Highlands Robbers, according to survivor Matoko Matela Nkokana, but supporters of the team.

Sefako, who has been a pillar of strength and a shoulder to cry on for the bereaved families, also related the sad story of Makabele Takane, who had a heart attack and died a day after the burial of her daughter Mantaote Takane, 19, one of four female fans to die in the accident.

"She could not take her daughter's death and it proved too much for her. Mme Takane will be buried separately tomorrow," Sefako said.

She said siblings who perished in the horror accident included the Phera brothers, Qhobokoane, 36, and Tsietsi, 25; Molefi brothers, Lempe, 16, and Pheko, age unknown, and their relatives, Lehoretse, 21, and Tseliso, 24; the Malikelle cousins, Malikelle, 25, and Moeketsi, 25, and their relatives Kefuoe Phoofolo, 16, Mampaleng Majoro, 26, and Malephollo Jeremane, 19.