Desperate search for lost Xhana girl ends in success
A Xhana herdboy has been hailed a hero after his tireless efforts and excellent tracking skills saw him rescue a six-year-old girl who had been lost in the bush for three nights.
When the news that a child from Xhana had gone missing on the evening of Sunday 1st August, the entire community came together to assist the distressed family.
It is believed she went to the river with her grandfather and two relatives – aged 10 and six – but got separated and lost on the way back home.
In the end, it was 44-year-old Oduetse Kadise who emerged the hero, following the little girl’s footprints deep into the thick, thorny bush.
Fast asleep, cold and severely dehydrated, it is unlikely the youngster would have survived another night in the wilderness.
Although he was initially reluctant to speak to The Voice, after some gentle but persistent nagging Kadise eventually relented and agreed to tell his story.
Born and bred in Maun, the father-of-two has been based in Xhana settlement on the outskirts of the tourist town for the last two years.
“I’ve been working as a herdboy and have since learnt my way around the bushes in the area. I heard about the missing child on Monday and started searching for her on Tuesday but did not find her,” he explains, speaking in soft, eloquent tones.
As a parent to young children himself, the missing minor’s plight really touched him and he felt compelled to try again the next day.
“I personally do not know the family but as a parent I felt their pain – that is why after failing to find the girl on Tuesday I did not sleep. I only came home and gave the cattle drinking water and continued my search until I found her!”
Re-joining the search party on Wednesday morning, Kadise’s group eventually spotted tiny, barely perceptible footprints in the ground.
In their excitement to find the girl, the group inadvertently split up as the tracks became harder to follow.
Convinced they were going the wrong way, Kadise decided to trust his instincts.
“I left the search party and went alone in the opposite direction,” he says, pausing dramatically before arriving at the happy climax of his tale.
“That is when I found the little girl sleeping. She looked like she fell on her knees and slept in that position. Her footprints were no longer visible as she appeared to have been dragging her feet due to exhaustion. After finding her I called the police and they came and collected her. Thank God for Bmobile, you get signal even here in the middle of the bundis!”
Although he does not want to dwell on it, Kadise suspects the girl was close to death’s door when he found her.
“When I found her, she was quite a sorry sight. I even thought she was dead because at first she did not respond when I tried to wake her. She was tired, hungry, thirsty and had spent three nights and two days in the cold weather. Had she spent another night we would have been talking something different right now,” shudders Kadise.
Fortunately, thanks to his heroics, the story had a happy ending.
The youngster is now safely back with her family, having been treated and discharged by Letsholathebe Memorial Hospital.