Rugby family in mourning

Rugby family in mourning

MASERU – The tragic deaths of five junior Mabote Beavers rugby players last weekend have hit their families and the local rugby family very hard.

The five Under-16 girls lost their lives in a horrific car accident that happened between Botshabelo and Bloemfontein in South Africa on Saturday June 22, as the vehicle they were travelling in burst a tyre causing its driver to lose control.

The vehicle was transporting a team of 14 girls who were on their way to compete at a rugby event in Bloemfontein.
Their vehicle collided with another oncoming car whose driver also lost his life.

“Out of the 14 athletes involved, five were treated for minor injuries, four hospitalised, four died at the scene and one passed away at the hospital in Bloemfontein,” the Federation of Lesotho (FLR) said in statement after the crash.
A total of four cars were involved in the accident as two more cars were not able to avoid the incident because it happened so quickly.

The official death toll is reported to be six.
The deaths have caused major pain for the victims’ families, rugby, schools, teammates and to everyone who knew them.

Some of the injured players are still in hospital in Bloemfontein but are expected to be back in the country this week.
Other players were discharged a day after the accident and are getting the medical attention they need here at home.
The young girls that lost their lives are Mamello Moseme, 18, Mpho Macheli, 16, Lerato Kelepa, 15, Thato Moahi, 14, and Keketso Tšeuoa, 15.

The driver of their vehicle has since been charged with culpable homicide.
Mamello Moseme will be laid to rest this weekend in Sehlabeng. Her school, Lancers Gap High School, held a joint memorial service for her and Mpho Macheli on Tuesday.

FLR general secretary Litšitso Motšeremeli narrated the painful process of having to inform the affected families that their children had lost their lives.

Speaking to thepost on Tuesday, Motšeremeli was emotional and said, as one of the founders of rugby in Lesotho, he is hurt that parents have lost their children.

The majority of the families affected were notified about the accident on Saturday, June 22 but some only received word in the early hours of Sunday, June 23.

All the players were in high school doing Form C and had a bright future ahead of them both in sports and the academic arena.

“This is painful,” Motšeremeli grieved.
“As a sports administrator and one of the founders of rugby in the country it is even more painful because as a person you end up thinking the parents would still have their kids if I didn’t start this. It is painful, we have lost great talent,” he said.

“Now every day we are transporting parents to Bloemfontein to see kids in hospital. The LSRC (Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission) and the sports ministry are helping us. Some (players) were discharged and we are making sure they are going for check-ups. Those that are still in hospital will be out this week to come back and they will get the medical attention here in the country.”

Motšeremeli explained the circumstances of the fatal accident.
“The police took a statement from the source who is the driver of the car they were travelling in,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the other driver of the second car passed away. The other two cars do not know what happened and realised the accident late; it was an accident involving four cars and a total of six people died,” Motšeremeli said.

“The tyre on the left side of the driver burst. When the car they were travelling in lost control the second car unfortunately was near and it was overtaking another car but it was on its lane speeding.”
“It is like that, there is nothing else,” Motšeremeli continued.

“So, it is law that when there is an accident and you hit a pavement or something you get charged for reckless driving. But if a person dies, you get charged for culpable homicide. It is a standard procedure.”

The five girls were talented prospects that were seen as the future of the women’s game in Lesotho.
Moseme, for example, started off as a footballer but moved to rugby. She is described as one of the fastest rugby players the country has seen.

In order to not forget the tragic loss, the FLR is planning to hold an annual tournament in honour of Moseme, Macheli, Kelepa, Moahi and Tšeuoa as a way to keep their memory alive.

“Moseme was very talented, she even played football; she was the fastest player we have ever had in the high schools category, we were already recruiting them and we could see the future,” Motšeremeli said.

“The association has lost a lot. First of all, losing a life is painful; here in rugby we call it a family. We are one big family, it is not only about playing, it’s about caring for one another. The fact that we no longer have them in our

family, we are now reduced and it is not something nice,” he said.
Motšeremeli said Lesotho has lost a wonderful group of promising young girls.
“They had talent and that is a fact,” he said.

“They were the champions here at home and they beat the senior team to win. They were very young Under-16s and only two were Under-18 in the team, but they beat their sisters who have experience, so you can imagine losing such talent hurts,” he added.

“We are going to have to dig very deep to see if we can get that talent again,” Motšeremeli continued.
“These kids came to rugby with good motives and they became part of the family and that kept them out of anything

bad that they could have been involved in. We are very proud of them and we are going to do something big for them. We are going to have a memorable tournament every season to remember these fallen soldiers.”

Burials:
Saturday, July 6
Mamello Moseme (Sehlabeng)
Saturday, July 13
Mpho Macheli (Sehlabeng)
Lerato Kelepa (Khubetsoana)
Thato Moahi (Matelile)
Saturday, July 20
Keketso Tšeuoa (Thaba-Tseka)

Tlalane Phahla

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