Storm kills angler

2017-09-18 13:27
A picture of the storm at Midmar Dam posted on The Witness Facebook page. INSET: Keen fisherman Morgan Govender in happier times. He drowned when his fishing boat capsized in Saturday’s windstorm at Albert Falls dam.

A picture of the storm at Midmar Dam posted on The Witness Facebook page. INSET: Keen fisherman Morgan Govender in happier times. He drowned when his fishing boat capsized in Saturday’s windstorm at Albert Falls dam. (Supplied)

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Saturday’s gale force winds whipped the waters of Albert Falls dam into a frenzy and claimed the life of Pietermaritzburg fisherman Morgan Govender (56).

Even the fact that Govender was wearing a life jacket did not save his life.

His nephew, Tony Govender, told The Witness his uncle was still wearing his life jacket when his body was recovered on Sunday.

Close friend Gordon Ince, who was on the shore, said Govender had been fishing from a rowing boat when he was hit by the storm. He was about 40 metres out on the dam when sudden strong winds rose at about 4 pm.

Ince said the wind capsized the boat and Govender fell out of the boat into the water.

Ince said he had been on his way to meet his friend at the bank when he heard him screaming for help.

“Some fishermen who were close to the shore tried to get to him but the strong wind and waves made it impossible for them,” Ince said.

When he realised that the fishermen would not be able to save his friend, Ince ran to the dam security for help.

He said the K9 search and rescue team was then contacted. The team started the search for Govender and could not find him or his boat due to the harsh weather conditions.

When it got dark the search had to be called off. Ince said Govender’s boat had reportedly surfaced at around 7 pm on Saturday evening on the other side of the dam, very far from where he was last seen, while two fishermen found his body about 10 metres from the shore at 8 am on Sunday, as the search and rescue team prepared to continue.

Tony Govender said not knowing the whereabouts of his uncle overnight had been one of the worst experiences the heartbroken family has ever been through.

He said when they could not find his uncle on Saturday he believed that he was still alive. “I was hoping that he had been pushed into the rocks or washed out on the other side of the dam,” he said.

This was because he said he knew he was wearing a life jacket. Tony said Govender’s death is a great loss to the family and the city as whole. He said Govender managed the Panorama Recovery Centre, which provides rehabilitation services for the youth and adults struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. “My uncle was passionate about helping the community,” he said.

He said his uncle was a caring man who loved the water and “he went fishing up four times a week”.

He added that Govender’s memorial will be held at Eleh Temple in Howick West tomorrow, but the time still has to be decided.

Elsewhere in KwaZulu-Natal the strong winds also wreaked havoc. The severe weather left many areas in the province without electricity.

Eskom spokesperson Joyce Zingoni said the wind storms had resulted in a number of faults on the Eskom network.

“Areas that were mostly affected are North Coast (from Stanger to Nongoma), South Coast (from Park Rynie to Port Edward), Midlands, Underberg, Vryheid, Hluhluwe, Ndumo and Makhathini.

“Eskom staff has been working around the clock to determine the extent of the damage and restore the lines back to service. Supply to about 14 900 [homes] has been restored, while work is carrying on to restore the outstanding networks affecting about 25 000 customers,” said Zingoni.

Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo said he had been bombarded by calls after lights went off on Saturday.

“Calls were coming directly to me. We got in 10 private contractors who worked flat out to restore electricity to most of the affected areas. The hardest hit areas were Hilton and Northern suburbs,” he said.

Njilo said the city had not established the extent of the damage caused by the storm. “According to the preliminary reports that we received, it appeared it was mostly roofs blown off, especially in areas such as Vulindlela.”

Many readers shared their frustrations at being unable to get through to Msunduzi’s call centre on The Witness Facebook page.

• A man, believed to be 34 years old, drowned in the Chelmsford dam at Newcastle on Saturday. His body was found on Sunday morning. It is believed that the man and his friends were at the dam when he went for a swim and drowned.

Cogta takes stock after gales

Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in KZN said it was taking stock of the two days of heavy rain and gale force winds that caused weather-related incidents across the province.

“Our disaster teams have logged and responded to several incidents in Ugu, eThekwini and Ladysmith, which impacted on both public infrastructure and private property and disrupted lives in most parts of the province,” said Cogta MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube in a statement.

“The interim assessments reveal that houses had roofs blown away, trees falling over and blocking roads and damaging property and vehicles,” she continued.

The department confirmed that at least three people were critically injured and were admitted to hospital.

“All reported incidents are being attended to promptly by our disaster management teams.

“We are still assessing the long-term impact of damage to roads, public infrastructure and facilities as well as private properties, and we continue to offer assistance to all concerned,” said Dube-Ncube.

eThekwini council activates disaster relief

eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, convened an urgent meeting yesterday to activate disaster relief in the wake of Saturday’s wind storm.

As the extreme weather conditions were predicted to continue in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday afternoon, Gumede appealed to residents in flood-prone areas to excise caution and even move to the nearest community halls if necessary.

“Our joint response and relief team is already on the ground, the mop-up has already begun in areas where roads are blocked, and displaced communities are being accommodated in community halls. I want to appeal to residents to be patient as we are responding to each case that has been reported thus far,” said Gumede.

Gumede further appealed to religious leaders and individuals to open their homes and places of worship to accommodate displaced people.

“Our team on the ground will provide food, soup, and blankets for the affected people. Community halls and centres like crèches will also be used to accommodate the displaced people,” said Gumede.

Residents of eThekwini are urged to contact the Disaster and Emergency Unit on 031 361 00 00 and communities can also report incidents via WhatsApp to 073 148 3477


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