Praying woman killed when wall falls

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

A fierce storm claimed one life, injured 350 and destroyed more than 450 houses in Klerksdorp's townships at the weekend.

Cathleen Qwathi, 78 , died after a brick wall fell on her while she was praying with a group at the Presbyterean church.

The other six people in her group survived and were taken to Tshepong Hospital, where they are recovering.

Nomvula Keagile, Qwathi's daughter, said: "They said the wall fell on her chest just after she'd finished saying her prayers."

Thousands of affected people gathered at the Jouberton police station, not far from Qwathi's house.

One of them, Jemina Mosidi, said: "We are surviving on my HIV-positive granddaughter's grant. How am I expected to repair my roof on my own?

"I use the money she gets to buy food and her medication, which is expensive."

Charles Malaka, director for social development in the southern district, said they would help all the affected people.

"We will provide them with food and try to find everyone temporary shelter," Malaka said.

Scattered corrugated iron roofing sheets - some embedded in trees - electricity poles, fallen trees across roads and crumbled walls were stark evidence of what Alabama and Jouberton residents endured.

One resident, Ruth Pitso, said: "My roof is up there on the electricity pole and I'm afraid to get it down."

Residents had no water or electricity yesterday, and schools had to close early because classrooms were damaged.

China Dodovu, the executive mayor of Matlasana, said the damage was massive.

"About 2500 people have been displaced," he said.

"We have started an interim relief committee to help the victims of this storm," Dodovu added.