Second killer storm hits KZN
1 December 2008
By Nompumelo Magwaza and Ntokoza Mfusi
Another killer storm has struck the Durban area, leaving seven people dead and eight critically injured.
Three weeks after nine people were killed in a storm in Molweni, outside Hillcrest, which left a trail of destruction, the latest storm on Saturday night wrecked hundreds of houses, community centres and schools in areas south of Durban.
When The Mercury visited KwaMakhutha on Sunday, people stood among piles of rubble which had once been their homes.
Trees had been uprooted and electrical wires littered roads.
Local government department spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said seven deaths had been reported during the storm, which had lasted just 10 minutes on Saturday night, but apparently only four had since been confirmed.
He said 400 houses had been destroyed and 300 homesteads damaged at KwaMakhutha, Umbumbulu, Amanzimtoti and Adams Mission.
“This comes while we are still trying to recover from the Molweni saga. Although our resources have been stretched, our disaster management team is doing inspections and providing urgent relief.”
Late last week, parts of Molweni, Waterfall and Kloof were declared local disaster areas and around R23-million was set aside for repairs.
Speaking to displaced people at KwaMakhutha on Sunday, Social Development MEC Meshack Radebe said the area would be declared a disaster area. The department would provide food, shelter and blankets as temporary relief. He added that the provincial government would call on the national government to assist if funds were depleted.
The eThekwini mayor, Obed Mlaba, said many areas had been affected.
“We dispatched our disaster management team to the affected areas to assist the needy. More reports of affected people are coming in.”
At KwaMakhutha on Sunday, Sipho Gcwabaza was inconsolable after losing an eight-month-old child when a wall collapsed during the storm. His five-year-old daughter is in a coma after being injured in the same incident.
“This is all too much. I need to clear my mind. I just lost a daughter and the other one is fighting for her life in hospital,” was all he could say.
His brother, Sibusiso Gcwabaza, said the incident had happened in just a few minutes and no one had been able to react in time to save the infant.
“It only took the storm three minutes to destroy the house and after that we learnt that the child had died in the house and the other was injured. This has been a very busy and sad Sunday for us.”
The Chiliza family went to a funeral on Saturday and returned after the storm that night to find their house had been flattened.
“I am not sure whether to say that we were lucky that we went to the funeral when all this happened, but if we were here one of us would have died,” said Thomas Chiliza. He said the family had lost all their possessions.
Philisiwe Dube said her husband was hit by large hailstones and had been taken to hospital.
“During the storm a strong swirling wind surrounded my house. It was so strong that it prevented my husband from opening the door and he was injured by the hail,” she said.
The weather service said it was investigating if the weekend’s storm and that which hit Molweni had been tornadoes.
* This article was originally published on page 1 of The Mercury on December 01, 2008