By Ntokozo Magongo
THE Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) Football Manager Pat Vilakati is lucky to be alive after surviving a bolt of lightning. Vilakati was rushed to hospital on Tuesday night after he was struck by lightning during the windy storm experienced in almost all parts of the country on Tuesday night. PLE Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kenneth Makhanya confirmed the news on Wednesday.
“Our Football Manager was struck by lightning at home during the storm last night (Tuesday). He was taken to hospital in a coma during the night and discharged early this morning (Wednesday). He is now able to talk and we wish him a speedy and full recovery,” he said. Vilakati was part of the panel that conducted the MoMo Cup play-offs draw on Tuesday afternoon at Sigwaca House. He was assisted by MoMo Cup Public Relations Officer Thabiso ‘Touch’ Manyatsi.
Vilakati is one of the longest-serving employees at the PLE having served as the Chief Operations Officer (COO) before being appointed Football Manager late last season. He also served under the Manzini Region Football Association (MRFA) before joining PLE. In a brief comment on the PLE Media group, Vilakati thanked God for sparing his life.
“We serve a faithful God. Thank you for your prayers. Yeah, it was not good at all but I am fine and home now. Till then kungumusa,” Vilakati wrote in the WhatsApp Group. According to the National Weather Service, there are five types of lightning strikes, and they are all deadly. There is the direct strike, which is when a person struck directly by lightning becomes a part of the main lightning discharge channel. Most often, direct strikes occur to victims who are in open areas.
The other type is side flash which occurs when lightning strikes a taller object near the victim and a portion of the current jumps from the taller object to the victim. In essence, the person acts as a “short circuit” for some of the energy in the lightning discharge.
Ground Current is when lightning strikes a tree or other object, much of the energy travels outward from the strike in and along the ground surface. This is known as the ground current. Anyone outside near a lightning strike is potentially a victim of ground current.