'My children managed to hide under the bed': Displaced residents recall Eastern Cape storm disaster

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Houses were destroyed by a devastating storm in Matatiele, in the Eastern Cape.
Houses were destroyed by a devastating storm in Matatiele, in the Eastern Cape.
PHOTO: Supplied by Wonga Potwana
  • More than 15 homes were destroyed in Matatiele in the Eastern Cape.
  • The households were destroyed by a devastating storm.
  • Of the 17 households, 10 were completely destroyed and seven were partially affected.

More than 15 homes were destroyed in a devastating storm in Matatiele in the Eastern Cape on Friday.

According to the Alfred Nzo District Municipality, 17 households were affected by the storm.

Of the 17 households, 10 were completely destroyed and seven were partially affected. One child from Ward 23 reportedly drowned.

One resident, Zolani Mkhatshane, told News24 he was at work when the storm hit at around 16:30.

"I received a call from my neighbours, telling me that our roof was torn off, and the house had collapsed. Most of our furniture was destroyed, but luckily my children managed to hide under the bed, and that's how they escaped getting harmed," he said.

Community members assisted his children.

"What happened in our community is devastating," Mkhatshane added.

Collapsed structure of home destroyed by storm
Houses were destroyed by a devastating storm in Matatiele, in the Eastern Cape.
SuppliedSupplied by Wonga Potwana

His neighbour is helping him and his children with accommodation.

Another resident who was displaced, Thandisizwe Ndlela, said the storm started suddenly and caused complete destruction.

"We don't know what caused the strong winds, but we just saw everything being destroyed. We had no idea what to take as all the homes were being destroyed."

Ndlela added that officials arrived to take down their details, but there were no updates on whether they would receive assistance.

"I am really hoping that they keep to their promises because, as it stands, I am currently living with my neighbour. All my belongings are still in the wreckage because my neighbour doesn't have enough space to accommodate both me and my belongings," he said.

An incident report from the municipality indicated that some of the other neighbours could not accommodate more of the affected families because of the huge number of family members involved. 

READ | 4 people killed, over 1 000 houses destroyed in KwaZulu-Natal by thunderstorms since December

"This led to the continuation of using those damaged structures, which leads to the secondary risk of injuries and health hazards," the report stated.

The DA's Wonga Potwana said they were saddened by the disaster and the effect it had on communities.

"... and what struck me most is that the child who succumbed to death is from Ward 23, where I reside," Potwana added.

He said they were relieved that two other children were rescued.

"People have lost their belongings, and the unfortunate part is that the district will only do the assessments. Thereafter, these people will not be assisted.

"As the DA, we will make sure that we assist where we can, and go the extra mile in seeking donations, so our people can get shelter," Potwana said.

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