The widow of a security guard who was trampled to death by an elephant at the Foskor Mine in Phalaborwa, Limpopo, on Saturday is still battling to come to terms with her partner’s death.

Family spokesperson Constance Kobeng said her sister-in-law was not coping at all.

“She is emotionally weak because the tragic incident has affected her severely. She is currently resting to gather her strength. We are here at her house to ensure that she and her four children are healing.”

Eric Kgatla, 45, was employed by a Foskor Zirconia as a security guard. The company is contracted to Foskor Pty Ltd, a separate entity, which neighbours the Kruger National Park.

He was on duty on the day an elephant trampled him to death.

Kobeng said she believed that Kgatla had left his guardroom to go to the toilet when the elephant spotted and then killed him.

Kobeng, who lives close to the mine, said she received the call on Saturday that he had been killed by a wild animal.

“I rushed to the scene and he was about to be loaded into a pathology vehicle. [He] was severely injured. His body was swollen and had blood in his mouth,” she added.

On Monday morning, the family went to Kgatla’s workplace and his colleagues showed them the place where he had died.

‘No one to look after them’

“We were told by his seniors that the elephant that killed him has not been found yet. They said they don’t know where it is,” Kobeng said.

Kgatla had fathered four children with his wife, Rebotile Matlou, 29. They are aged nine, eight, three and two weeks.

“He was the breadwinner and his wife had just given birth to another child a [few weeks] ago. His family has no one to look after them. His children are young and two of them are still in primary school. Who is going to look after them now that he is gone?

“Life is going to be difficult at home. He is gone and his wife has no one to look after them,” said Kobeng.

News24 earlier reported that Kgatla was not in his guardroom at about 04:00, when his colleague heard sounds of an elephant outside.

According to mine spokesperson Frans Mkhondo, the colleague went out to inspect the sound and upon arrival he found an elephant outside. He then ran to safety but realised that the deceased was not in the guardroom.

“He phoned for help but when back-up arrived, the elephant had disappeared. They then found the deceased behind the guardroom, trampled to death.”

The mine was adjacent to the Kruger National Park, so animals do break the fence and move into the mining area, Mkhondo explained.

Kgatla will be buried on Saturday at his home in Bolobedu, Limpopo.

In a separate incident, also in the Kruger National Park, a two-year-old died after he was mauled by a leopard last week.

READ: ‘He was my last born, he left us too soon’ says father of toddler killed by leopard at KNP

Courtney Ntimane and his mother, Cebile Nuku Thobela who live in Bushbuckridge, had apparently visited Isaiah Ntimane in the park when the attack took place.

Isaiah is employed as a water operator in the park.

The leopard was traced and put down shortly after the incident, South African National Parks (SANParks) spokesperson Isaac Phaahla confirmed last week.

The toddler was buried on Sunday.

Lions spotted

In another incident also in Limpopo last week, people living in and around Phalaborwa were assured that there was nothing to fear after 14 lions were spotted to be on the loose.

The lions had reportedly escaped their enclosure and were seen roaming around the Phalaborwa Foskor Mine.

SANParks stated that the pride does not belong to the Kruger National Park or an adjacent private game reserve but have been returned to their pride location.

Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) said that the lions could belong to either of the five game reserves in the area, but so far no one had come forward to claim ownership.

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