Homes, schools, roads damaged in KZN storms to get urgent attention before matric exams

24 October 2023 - 11:35
By Sakhiseni Nxumalo
More than 100 houses in KwaZulu-Natal were destroyed, leaving families homeless, after the heavy rains and strong winds.
Image: KZN premier's office More than 100 houses in KwaZulu-Natal were destroyed, leaving families homeless, after the heavy rains and strong winds.

The KwaZulu-Natal government has directed departments to accelerate urgent repairs to critical infrastructure such as homes, schools and roads damaged by thunderstorms and gale-force winds over the weekend. 

Heavy rains left a trail of destruction across the province.

On Monday, premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube, together with co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, human settlements and public works MEC Sipho “KK” Nkosi and mayor of uMkhanyakude district municipality Siphile Mdaka, conducted an oversight visit to Mtubatuba, one of the worst-affected areas.

“Many schools and homes have been damaged and electricity infrastructure destroyed, leaving people homeless and in the dark. Our budget alone will not suffice to cover the cost of this devastation,” said Dube-Ncube.

She said responsible functionaries must ensure classrooms are urgently cleared of debris and, if necessary, temporary classrooms are installed. This is to ensure the matric examinations — which start next week — are not disrupted.

“I am deeply saddened by the devastating impact of the recent storm on these communities. We are actively devising plans to assist all those affected. We are engaging the national government, requesting support, as we face this disaster,” she said. 

The province said the death toll had risen to six, with the discovery of the body of a person struck by lightning in the Mpofana local municipality.

In Mtubatuba five people, including a one-year-old child, lost their lives in a structural collapse caused by heavy rains and strong winds.

Dube-Ncube said the province will assist families with burial arrangements. Many families lost all their possessions in the storms.

“We will make available the necessary support to make sure they are buried with dignity. The province has also pledged psychological support to all those affected and the assessment will continue until all victims are accounted for,” 

More than 600 homes across the province were reported to have been damaged, with more than 130 destroyed in the Somkhele and KwaMyeki in Mtubatuba areas, leaving scores of people homeless.

Many people also lost livestock, including goats, poultry and cattle.

The defence force stepped in to assist in clearing affected areas, as some roads were blocked by fallen poles, cables and debris. 

Dube-Ncube said the department of human settlements would fast-track the process of providing temporary structures to families whose houses were destroyed.

Other affected areas included the Harry Gwala district, especially the Greater Kokstad municipality where heavy rains and a hailstorm in Pakkies location caused huge destruction. 

About six homes were affected but no fatalities, injuries or cases of people being displaced have been reported. 

In Umzimkhulu municipality, four households were affected by heavy rains in Madakeni location, with no fatalities at this point.

About 23 households in the Rosetta informal settlement in the Mpofana local municipality were affected.

A block of rental rooms was blown away by strong winds in Ulundi.