NW farmers rally around fellow farmer who lost 65 cattle to lightning


Victor Badenhorst, who lost nearly 50% of his cattle herd after it was struck by lightning, was at a loss for words when a herd of 50 cattle were handed over to him at the Gerdau sale pens. 

“How can one ever thank all the donors for this noble gesture?” he asked. The 42 females, four calves and two bulls were donated by his fellow farmers after 65 of his Bonsmara cows and calves were killed by lightning in the hilly area near Swartruggens on 14 January.

Victor said the cattle were moving up a koppie in single file, following a cattle track at the time. 

“They were felled down all along the track as they were walking. Carcasses were strewn next to the track for nearly 120m. It was probably the saddest sight I’ve seen in my career as a farmer.”

Chairperson of the Mooirivier study group in Potchefstroom Johan de Jager said the group’s members donated four cows. “It was the right thing to do. It was a question of casting one’s bread on the water. It’s our responsibility as farmers to stand together,” he added.

By Annelie Coleman

Keraunomedicine (Lightning Medicine)

Lightning has caused injuries to humans ever since humans evolved on Earth. It has played a role in nearly every ancient religion and culture. To this day lightning continues to engender stories, perceptions, and myths and is a popular topic for the press and science and weather documentaries.

Keraunomedicine and keraunopathology are those branches of medicine and pathology which deal with the pathology of trauma of lightning injury. This is a newly developed and highly specialized field requiring multi-disciplinary input from many divergent disciplines such as medicine, climatology, electrical engineering and science.


Photograph courtesy of Mr Bryan Smith, Phalaborwa.

Lightning History in RSA

One of the first ‘high-profile’ highly-publicized lightning deaths in South Africa: The two , Valerie Wilcox (22) an Johan De la harpe (21) must have set off on the morning of the 18 Dec 1932, probably in love, and together they spent the day climbing and working their way up to the top of the Mont Aux Sources. The weather closed in and things must have got stormy so they probably held each other for comfort and this was when tragedy stuck. On the 18 December 1932, Valerie Wilcox and Johan De la Harpe, both died after being stuck by lighting. Quite sad that they were so young still.

These graves are located near between Clarens and Harrismith in the Golden Gate National Park (Van Reenen family Cemetery, just passed the picnic spot).

There are so many tragic stories like this in our country which are hardly publicized.


Photograph coutesy of Dr SH Rossouw, Pretoria.