Eight die in floods
Major roads collapsed, houses were washed away and hundreds of people were cut off as heavy rain continued to lash the Eastern Cape at the weekend.
By yesterday, the death toll in the floods had risen to eight, the latest fatality a five-year-old boy who drowned in East London.
Provincial disaster management spokesman John Fobian said the boy drowned in the floods at Buffalo Flats and his body was discovered in Duncan Village, two areas near East London's city centre.
Six other people drowned in the province and one died in an accident on the N2 between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth. The collision, in which four people were seriously injured, was caused by the bad weather.
Fobian said the driver of a truck lost control and his vehicle overturned. While the rescue team were on the scene, two cars collided head-on. One person was killed.
"After the accidents . the road just gave in and collapsed and left a 25m gap and tremendous damage to the road," Fobian said.
Officials closed the N2. Fobian said it might take more than three months to rebuild the damaged section.
Arrive Alive spokesman Tshepo Machaea said several roads in the Eastern Cape had been badly damaged in the floods.
"There have been accidents everywhere and people are dying because of speeding in wet conditions. There are potholes and it is not easy to fix the damage because the rain has not stopped," Machaea said.
Roads and public works spokesman Sisanda George said officials from national, provincial and municipal roads departments would meet today to discuss repairs. There had been no assessment of the damage yet.
Sunshine Coast police, municipal and fire staff and National Sea Rescue Institute volunteers had their hands full, too.
At least one Port Alfred house was washed away and others were severely damaged in heavy rain on Saturday morning.
Traffic officials rescued the driver of a vehicle after he ignored a warning not to cross a low-lying bridge on the road to Bathurst and was washed away. Officer James Gerber said he smashed a window and pulled the driver from the car.
The only road linking the Forest Downs area to Port Alfred was washed away and hundreds of residents were completely cut off from Saturday to yesterday, without water or electricity.
Yesterday morning, residents Derek Jacobs and Mark "Turkz" Thurgood organised help to build a wooden pedestrian bridge across the crumbling abyss to try to give people access to food and generators.
The raging wall of water that ate the road away, destroyed Jody Springer's nearby Beachview cottage and washed away a massive wall and the lawn at a recently completed multimillion-rand beach house.
A few kilometres away, friends rallied behind Quinton and Paul Fick after the first level of their house filled with 2m of water during the downpour. A quad bike, motorboat, fridges and deepfreezes floated in the flooded house and yard.
Residents of upmarket hillside development Southwell Downs were ordered to evacuate their homes as a huge section of a cliff overlooking the town collapsed.
DA ward councillor Ross Purdon, who was monitoring the situation from the R72 on Saturday afternoon, said a boundary palisade fence and wooden decks attached to several apartments had begun to sag as a result of sinkholes. By yesterday afternoon, the apartments were still standing.
Sunshine Coast Tourism boss Sandy Birch said 57 residents at New Rest informal settlement, Port Alfred, had to be housed in a township library after their homes were severely damaged in the rain.
Bushman's River also suffered serious damage to infrastructure and some areas could not be reached by vehicle.
Several suburban homes were flooded when a dam burst its walls and sent a 20m-wide river through the seaside town.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, Joint Operations Centre spokeswoman Marthie Nel said about 1000 people had been evacuated.
The centre had received reports of homes flooded in New Brighton, Rowallan Park and Walmer. The Sasko bakery near the airport was also under water.
Nel said there were power failures in Bethelsdorp, Chatty and parts of Kwazakhele, which had been without electricity since Friday.
Police were called in to assist after a bridge in Essexvale collapsed.
In Port Elizabeth, a 32-year-old Kirkwood farm worker drowned when he and a friend tried to cross the Wit River yesterday afternoon.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Gerda Swart said a man had jumped into the river to help the farm worker. But they were unable to save the 32-year-old, Swart said.
An unidentified woman was swept away as she tried to cross a flooded bridge near Main Road in Kleinskool.
Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said people had tried in vain to help her.
"The police went there but the [weather] conditions were bad to the extent that they had to abandon the search until today [Sunday]," Janse van Rensburg said.
As heavy clouds rolled in over Port Elizabeth last night, following a respite of several hours, petrol attendant Dumisani Mdevulana said he was worried for the safety of his wife, Sylvia, and their young children.
It would be the second night he would not sleep.
"I stayed awake to make sure that my family, who live in Walmer township, are safe. I took my sons, who are eight and six years old, to my mother-in-law," he said.
Describing how a homeowner had died after a wall collapsed, Mdevulana, who was working night shift last night, said people were very afraid.
"When I spoke to my wife she was terrified. She was trapped in the back of our RDP house by the water. There was no police or fire brigade so I told her to leave.
"Everything is wet, including our clothes and furniture. There is no way that my children will be able to go to school tomorrow ," he said.
Eastern Cape Weather Service regional manager Hugh van Niekerk said heavy storms were expected in Nelson Mandela Bay, Grahamstown and Alexandria this morning.
KILLER RAINS BATTER KZNKILLER RAINS BATTER KZN
PARTS of KwaZulu-Natal were battered by heavy rain at the weekend.
Lennox Mabaso, spokesman for the KwaZulu-Natal department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, said rain flattened four houses in Nongoma's ward 14.
Two people died on the R603 in a head-on collision involving two cars near Tala Game Reserve.
Three men were killed when their car hit a concrete barrier on the Umlaas Road, near Pietermaritzburg. An ER24 spokesman said that three of the men had been thrown from the vehicle and were found to have sustained fatal injuries. They were declared dead at the scene.
Two survivors were taken to Grays Hospital with serious injuries, including broken legs and arms.
Eleven churchgoers were injured when their taxi veered off the road. The vehicle collided with a streetlight before hitting a wire fence in Waterfall, a residential area west of Durban, yesterday afternoon. - Mhlaba Memela