‘I could hear them screaming’ - flood survivor speaks

2019-04-25 16:01

The only survivor of a horror mudslide that killed eight people in a house in Westcliff, Durban, yesterday described how he heard the screams of his girlfriend and her young children before they were killed.

Thamsanqa Dlamini said he was trapped in the house for two hours when it was flattened by mud, which slid down from an embankment during heavy rains that devastated Durban and the South Coast this week.

The house was the caretaker’s quarters for Westcliff Secondary School in Chatsworth. It has two occupants but was full of people who had visited there for the Easter weekend. Community members were yesterday trying to clear up the wreckage.

“We were all in the house at the time and the kids and my girlfriend were in different rooms. I woke up to go to the toilet then I went to the kitchen to put on the kettle,” Dlamini told The Witness at the scene yesterday, where President Cyril Ramaphosa led a delegation to lay a wreath there.

“I heard a loud sound and I shouted out to my girlfriend to ask about the sound. Before she could answer something pierced through the wall.

“I heard my girlfriend screaming; I wanted to get to her but there was no way I could because there was so much mud in the house,” a shaken Dlamini said.

He said the mudslide intensified and pinned him against the fridge. “While I was stuck I could see that my girlfriend’s entire body was covered in mud except for her feet.

“I could not help her. I could also hear the children screaming out for help. I was trapped. I could not move,” said Dlamini.

Rescue operators spent hours removing bodies from the wreckage on Tuesday. Dlamini was taken to hospital for an injury to his right foot.

He said he does not have a place to stay currently.

Emotional family members and friends watched sombrely as community members and politicians spoke about the incident.

Nomusa Gumede, a friend of one of the dead children, Nobuhle Ngcobo, said: “We heard about it on social media and then her aunty told us it was true.

“I’m in denial that it happened. It doesn’t feel real,” she added. 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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