Kids 'calm' as créche smashed

The Big Storm: Community and church quick to donate essentials

11 October 2017 - 07:21
By Kgaugelo Masweneng
THINGS FALL APART   All that's left of a creche in Putfontein, on the East Rand, after the storm on Monday. No children or workers were  hurt
Image: Alon Skuy THINGS FALL APART All that's left of a creche in Putfontein, on the East Rand, after the storm on Monday. No children or workers were hurt

When Busisiwe Makhudu and Marriane Mzaza huddled in a corner at the Norah Moriri Créche, in Putfontein, Benoni, on the East Rand, they had no idea whether the 21 children in their care would survive Monday's vicious storm.

Makhudu and Mzaza shielded the little ones like mother hens while the building was ravaged by the deluge. They covered the children with blankets and shielded them with their bodies.

"It was at about 4pm. So, as usual, the children were in the hall playing, about 21 of them," said Makhudu. "It started becoming windy, then the door wouldn't close. We even placed chairs to stop it from opening.

"The kids were still playing and we thought maybe it's one of those [normal storms]. Then, within a minute, we couldn't see anything through the window."

Mzaza said that, as the heavy winds persisted, they pushed the children into a corner of the hall.

"We told ourselves that if anything happened it should happen to us and not the children.

"What's worse, we had a one-year-old baby with us and it put more pressure on us.

"The children were scared but calm and that helped.

"Within minutes it was over, just like that. It was like a horror movie. When we stood up and opened our eyes we saw no wall and no building.

"All we could think of was whether the babies were fine - but they were all okay."

The Norah Moriri Créche cares for about 250 children but only 65 were returned to the créche by their parents on Tuesday morning.

Mzaza said: "They [parents] have no choice. What can they do? They work. But luckily we had a block that was not damaged so that's where they are accommodated."

Norah Moriri, owner of the facility, said it needed urgent relief because the little ones need to continue their schooling.

"We have no toilets, electricity, water, or proper shelter at the moment," she said.

"We urgently need to rebuild and we will need funding."

The facility's principal, Albertina Mgudiwa, said she was grateful for the support of their community and its Methodist church.

"They really helped us and we're grateful.

"On Tuesday they brought warm, cooked food for the children and they also donated clothes. But our teaching material is ruined; we have nothing to teach with.

"The children are all crammed into one building - it's not healthy."

At least 205 homes in Putfontein were damaged by the storm.

William Ntladi, spokesman for the Ekurhuleni disaster and emergency management services, said the toll could rise as damage assessments continued. There had been no reports of fatalities or serious injuries.