Woman dies as house collapses on her

2013-10-10 13:03
A KwaZulu-Natal woman was killed when part of her house collapsed. (988 Media, The Witness)

A KwaZulu-Natal woman was killed when part of her house collapsed. (988 Media, The Witness)

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Durban - A Verulam woman screamed out for her husband before taking her final breaths under mounds of rubble when part of her house collapsed on Wednesday.

Shireen Sayed, 50, had just enjoyed a cup of tea on her back veranda when she got up to go to the kitchen. Moments later the veranda collapsed, bringing down huge chunks of the kitchen wall it was attached to.

Sayed’s husband Asmal, who was at work when the accident happened, stood outside looking lost, murmuring and sobbing bitterly.


Sayed’s emotional sister, Sangitha Baralam, wiped tears from her eyes as her sister was carried to the mortuary van.

Roof tiles, bricks and wooden planks littered the yard and police prevented any­one from going inside the house.

Asmal was too distraught to speak to the media. Baralam described her sister as a wonderful person. “She had a heart of gold. She was like a mother to me. Whenever I’d have financial problems I’d give her one call and she was there for me.”

The last time she spoke to her sister was on Monday. “She said, ‘hello girl’. That’s what she used to call me,” Baralam recalled.

Sayed also reminded her sister to bring her red roses from her house. “She loved flowers.”

Sayed did not have children of her own, but loved Baralam’s children like her own. “I don’t know how I’m going to live without this girl. God, why did you do this to me?” Baralam’s desperate cries echoed.

Warned about veranda

She told The Witness she had recently visited her sister’s home with her husband, who cautioned them about the veranda.

“My husband told my sister that the veranda was on the slope and that it will fall.”

Sayed’s home has outbuildings and it is believed that she and her husband were planning to move into one of the rooms while they renovated their house.

One of Sayed’s tenants, Rosetta Bhabha, said she has lost a dear friend.

She had been with Sayed in the morning chatting and laughing and had given Sayed’s puppy a bath.

Bhabha was inside the room that she rents on the property when she heard Sayed screaming.

“She screamed three times for her husband. She said, ‘Asmal. Asmal. Asmal’.”

The tenants who were home at the time ran into Sayed’s house and tried to search through the rubble for her, repeatedly calling her name.

“We ran inside and didn’t realise she was buried under the veranda. We were all running with cellphones trying to call the police,” Bhabha added.

Verulam police station spokesperson Warrant Officer Mandla Khumalo said an inquest docket has been opened.

“This incident is very unusual. We’ll also look at how old the house is and if there were any warning signs that the house could have collapsed,” said Khumalo.


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