Six people have been killed and two have been reported missing following the heavy rains in KwaZulu-Natal in recent days.
Umkhanyakude, King Cetshwayo, Umzinyathi, and Amajuba districts were the areas hardest hit.
MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Bongi Sithole Moloi, said 139 homes were destroyed and 158 were partially damaged by the storms.
“The disaster management teams are still continuing with assessments as different areas continue to receive more rain, while the ground is already saturated with water.”
Moloi added that in terms of public infrastructure, roads and bridges across the province had been badly affected. “This includes both gravel and black-top roads.”
She extended condolences to the families of those who died: Nokulunga Mchunu, 22, and Thulani Mabaso, 52, both in Danhausser, Thobile Innocentia Hadebe, 39, in eNdumeni, Skhulile Msweli, 25, in Mtubatuba, Lindani Dlamini, 17, in Jozini, and the family of the three-month-old infant in Newcastle.
Disaster management personnel are still conducting search operations for the two missing people who were swept away while attempting to cross a flooded river. They are Nkonzo Moses Buthelezi, 37, and Nomathemba Caroline Buthelezi, 42, both from the eNdumeni Local Municipality in Dundee.
Moloi said: “The total cost of the damages is still being compiled working together with various organs of state. The president’s proclamation of a state of national disaster will allow affected institutions to reprioritise their finances in order to better respond to the immediate issues presented by the devastation caused by heavy rains.”
The department is continuing to engage all stakeholders in a bid to look for long term solutions to spatial planning related issues that have resulted in recurring incidents in some of the areas as there does not seem to be an end in sight. The South African Weather Service has warned that the rains are set to continue throughout the summer season.
“We cannot emphasise enough the need for communities to remain on high alert during this time in order to prevent further loss of lives and damage to property,” said Moloi.
The department has also pleaded with residents to take the weather-related warnings seriously and exercise the necessary precautions as follows:
• Don’t try to cross flooded rivers, whether by car or on foot.
• Stay away from river banks.
• To those with homes along river banks, do not wait for the river to overflow before seeking safer shelter.
• Share the weather-related warnings amongst the communities, including with school-going children.
• Don’t drive when it is not safe to do so. Rather wait for the rain to subside before continuing with your travel.
• Water-proof your yard by making channels for the water to pass through.
“We plead for all of us to continue to work together as we navigate these challenging times.
“We would like to thank social partners for their continued assistance, which has allowed affected communities to get prompt aid,” said Moloi.
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