Family struggles to come to terms with tragedy

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SELEBI-PHIKWE: Members of the Tidige family, who recently suffered a tragedy when a car ploughed into their house killing a nursing mother and a five-month-old twin baby girl, are still battling to come to terms with the loss.

The surviving father, 34-year-old Kagelelo Tidige, still finds it difficult to explain what actually transpired on that fateful night of July 6.

Nursing the surviving twin baby girl on his lap, who chuckles as if nothing has happened to the family, the emotionally-taxed father says everything just happened in a flash.  The driver is said to have lost control and driven through the house, destroying the wall on the opposite end instantly killing the mother and the baby.

"I knocked off at 10pm and when I got home I proceeded to my wife's room to check on the children as usual. The twin girls, their two elder brothers and the mother were asleep so I went to the living room to watch television while I ate." This is usually what Tidige does when he knocks off and everything seemed normal. Little did he realise that this time around he was awaiting a tragedy that would haunt the family for the rest of their lives.

"I then left the living room to the kitchen and that is how I survived. While there I heard a bang as if something had exploded. I instantly thought maybe there was blasting going on at the mine. But I heard my neighbours shouting and when I went to the living room to assess what had happened I saw a car inside the house. I started calling out to my wife without any response, they were trapped in the debris of the collapsed brick wall.

At this point I knew I had to brace for the worst. I heard my first-born son screaming for help under the debris right where I was standing. I just failed to rescue him because of shock and confusion that had engulfed me."

Tidige said immediately his neighbors took him outside and rescued the two elder boys and the surviving twin. "It was difficult to rescue the mother and the twin and this only became possible after the car had been towed away. From what I heard, they were already dead when they were removed from the debris but I only knew about the death of the twin girl when I was called to identify them at the hospital."

The surviving twin and the eldest brother were transferred to Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone where the baby girl was discharged a day before the funeral of her twin sister and the mother, which she attended.  The eldest brother is still hospitalised. The funeral took place in Mahalapye a weekend after the accident. "We were thankful for the discharge of the remaining twin from the hospital because all the necessary rituals were performed as is tradition. The mother and daughter were buried in the same grave."

Tidige, who has not yet received any professional counselling, says the experience has taken an emotional toil because everything happened so suddenly. He says it weighs heavily on him especially when he is alone. He adds that even his second born son is still so scared that he even refuses to enter the bedroom during the day and runs for safety whenever he hears a car passing by. Another challenge the father is facing is that the remaining twin is too young to understand anything therefore she cannot be told anything until she grows older. "It is by God's grace that some of us survived because the way everything happened we could all be dead by now. No furniture was saved from the bedrooms."

Tidige currently uses contributions from sympathisers to travel to Gaborone to visit his son in hospital. He thanks his employers, BCL mine, police, local councillors and community members who responded quickly to his appeal for help after the accident. "We had nothing to wear but well-wishers came forward and assisted us." A memorial service was organised by the town's authorities at the town hall where magnitudes paid their conveyed their condolences.

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