Storms wreak havoc across KZN

2008-12-28 00:00

HEAVY storms that swept through parts of KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend claimed the life of a 12-year-old child in northern KZN while scores of people were left homeless after their houses were destroyed.

The boy, Sifiso Khambule, died when his family’s house collapsed on top of him while he and an older family member were asleep in Vryheid, northern KZN, on Friday night.

Also in Vryheid, 63 people had to be taken to hospitals after their houses collapsed on top of them while they were asleep. Others were hit by zinc roofing sheets and pieces of bricks as they fled from their homes.

Zululand District Municipality disaster management officer Makhandakhanda Dlamini said two schools in the district lost about 10 classrooms.

“Not only did the schools have the roofs blown away, but the walls collapsed. We will be meeting [yesterday afternoon] to collect the full details of the damages,” said Dlamini.

In Umlazi, south of Durban, a family escaped unharmed when lightning struck their house, causing a fire that gutted the building on Saturday night.

Head of health and safety in the Durban Metro, Nomvuzo Shabalala, said another house lost its roof while a large number of others were flooded in Umlazi on Saturday. She said a hailstorm also damaged overhead electricity lines in the same township.

“As a result, most parts of Umlazi are without electricity supply,” said Shabalala.

Welfare MEC Dr Meshack Radebe said 30 families lost their homes in the Vulamehlo Municipality, northern KZN, during the weekend’s storm.

He said 300 other families in Loskop near Estcourt in KZN midlands also had their homes reduced to rubble.

“This storm caused damage almost all over the province and people are suffering,” said Radebe.

He said he had to call off his visit to areas affected by the storm when his pilot got a warning that there would be another storm yesterday evening.

As a result of the recent storms and other disasters this year, the Welfare Department is going to have an over-expenditure of more than R130 million by the end of the financial year on March 31.

The storm also led to electricity outages in Pietermaritzburg city centre and surrounding suburbs.

The power cut started at 11 pm on Saturday and lasted until yesterday afternoon.

Also in Pietermaritzburg, 49-year-old Eunice Cele had to spend the night in a neighbour’s house after her one-room mud house in Mpumuza, Edendale, was damaged by the storm, which started on Saturday evening and went on throughout the night.

“The rain spoiled my bed and clothes after the wall of my house collapsed,” said Cele.

John Gutridge from Msunduzi Municipality disaster management said Cele was the only local victim of Saturday’s storm.

But there are unconfirmed reports that there was other damage in the Hilton area on Friday.

Cele, who lives alone, was preparing to go to bed at 8 pm when her house started to shake.

“The back wall started to fall apart, which frightened me and I had to get out. Soon the whole [side] wall collapsed and part of the roof was also blown away,” said Cele, who is unemployed.

Ward One councillor Dolo Phillip Zondi, said he was preparing to either house Cele in a tent or a local creche while trying to source building materials for her from the Msunduzi Municipality.

Zondi said there are about 10 other families in the area still waiting for help to rebuild their houses after a hailstorm some weeks ago.

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