Torrential rains victims buried

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Thousands of mourners braved the chilly weather yesterday to pay their last respects at a mass funeral service for seven victims of the torrential rains that battered the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

Mourners gathered in a giant white marquee at Malangeni village near Umzito.

Several homes and businesses were ravaged when the torrential rainstorms struck. More than 17 bodies were recovered a week ago.

Emergency workers recovered the body of a man near the bridge that collapsed in Umzinto. It is said that some young girls were collecting wood at a nearby stream when they spotted a corpse and alerted police.

Mourners wept openly when MEC for social development Meshack Radebe described the pain felt by all the victims from the first day of the disaster.

He warned the community not to be taken in by people who wanted to take advantage of their situation.

"Our people are in pain and yet there are politicians who are starting to make false promises," Radebe said. "We as politicians in KwaZulu-Natal need to rise above this sort of thing and help our people."

Radebe said he was not pleased by the action of some politicians who had turned the grief of people into an electioneering exercise.

Radebe said his department had spent more than R7million to address the situation.

"And we expect that this money will rise to R12million," he said.

The provincial cabinet had also asked President Thabo Mbeki to declare the district a disaster area. More than 17 schools were affected when bridges collapsed.