BROKEN HEART: Chokie Monageng lost her daughter and a relative who were swept away by raging floodwaters. 28/01/09. © Sowetan.
BROKEN HEART: Chokie Monageng lost her daughter and a relative who were swept away by raging floodwaters. 28/01/09. © Sowetan.

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

It's going to be a very long year for Chokie Monageng.

The young grieving mother is tormented by the tragedy on the first day of the year when a raging flood swept away her three-year- old baby girl and the little girl's aunt.

Her daughter Nomvuyo was swept away by floods into the Kaal River in Ekurhuleni on New Year's Eve.

Monageng spoke out about her grief for the first time this week, and about how she had spent the last few hours with her daughter on that fateful night.

Baby Nomvuyo and her aunt, Shadi Kgaladi, 34, were washed away into the river at Ivory Park near Midrand. Nomvuyo's body was found a day later, a kilometre down stream, but Kgaladi has never been seen again.

Monageng, 28, of Daveyton, told Sowetan how a happy family gathering turned into a nightmare.

"I arrived at our aunt's place in Ivory Park at around 7pm and we started preparing the food," she said.

"Just after 11pm, when everyone was getting into a celebratory mood, the younger revellers complained that the music was "too old school".

Monageng offered to fetch some CDs from a nearby house. It was raining. "I wanted to leave Nomvuyo behind, but she cried for me and became restless, which was strange because she never pined for me," she said.

As they left in Monageng's car, it started raining heavily. When they returned a few minutes later, the stormwater drain had flooded. After waiting in the car for about 30 minutes they felt the rain had subsided enough for them to cross, so they got out of the car.

"As I was taking the bags and firecrackers out of the boot, I heard my daughter scream, but I could not see them," she said.

Monageng said Shadi and Nomvuyo were swept under a car that had been pushed by the water next to their home.

"When I looked under the car I saw my daughter and Shadi trapped. As I went to the other side to free them they were untangled and swept away by the tide.

"Nomvuyo was screaming and trying to swim, but Shadi had lost consciousness as the strong current took them down.

"I screamed as I tried to get into the water to reach for Nomvuyo, but the water almost took me too," she said.

Monageng thought when the two reached a bridge they would get stuck and she would rescue them.

"But they disappeared before the bridge and when I rushed to the other side there was nothing," she said.

Monageng rushed home where the family waited, hopeless. She ran to the police and fire station for help. Police arrived with firefighters and searched until 4am, but found nothing.

"The search continued until January 2, when they found my daughter in the river. I was not strong enough to identify her body. The only picture I want to keep is the one on my cellphone where she is playing in the bath tub."

Police called off the search for Kgaladi 19 days later.