Two soccer players from the second and third divisions of the Kavango East league died and seven others have been hospitalised after being struck by lightning while playing soccer at Kamutjonga village in the Mukwe constituency on Wednesday.
Kavango East crime investigations coordinator deputy commissioner Bonifatius Kanyetu confirmed the incident yesterday.
“It is alleged that the two young boys were playing soccer with others when they were struck by lightning at Young Elephant sports-field at Kamutjonga village within the Divundu policing area,” said Kanyetu.
The deceased have been identified as Muharukwe Thikuko (19), a goalkeeper for the Young Elephants, and Dennis Muthitu (17), a midfielder for Young Academy, both from Kamutjonga village.
Thikuko’s sister Petronela Nduva said it was raining at the time when the lightning struck.
She said, the players were not playing, but were cleaning the field in preparation for the league scheduled for Saturday (tomorrow).
“It was raining a little bit and all of a sudden, they were struck by thunder,” she said.
The other players taken to the Andara district hospital are Andreas Dinyando (17), Mukoya Patrick Makoya (23), Muhero Gotfried (17), Christoph Muyambo (17), Mayira Reino (17) and Jonas Mbangu (17).
Mukuve Thapa, the coach of Young Elephants, said the news came as a shock as he was on his way to the field for training at the time with other players.
“The rest of the players need counselling as they are traumatised. As it stands, I am also expecting resistance from parents to stop the children from playing soccer going forward. The incident left a void in the team, because Muharukwe was a promising goalkeeper,” said Thapa.
He added that he is now awaiting instructions from the league administrators on what should happen to the scheduled games.
Namibia Football Association head of safety and security Tovey Hoebeb advised the league administrators to postpone the matches for the weekend.
“My advice to the league would be to postpone the matches scheduled for this weekend. You can’t bring back their lives, but at least show that you empathise with the families who have lost these young men,” said Hoëbeb.
He wished those in the hospital a speedy recovery.
Hoëbeb also cautioned the football fraternity to take caution during the rainy season.
“We are not immune to being struck by lightning. We’re entering the rainy season, so we really must do our best to be cautious when the storms are building up. Let’s stop everything we’re doing and take cover,” he said.
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