crushed to death

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

A woman was killed and more than 300 RDP houses were severely damaged by a vicious storm that left many people without shelter.

Maria Mathebula, 49, was crushed and smothered to death under a pile of bricks that fell on her while she was sleeping.

The incident has sent shock waves through the Mopani district.

Mathebula was sleeping with her three children when the storm struck Molalane village in the Sekororo area near Hoedspruit at about 7pm on Monday. The wind shook the house and swept away the roof. Then the wall crumbled.

The children, Clifford, 16, Given, 12 and Itumelengescaped, but their mother was trapped in the rubble.

Police spokesman Inspector Richard Zitha confirmed Mathebula's death.

The deceased's daughter, Madibe Mathebula, said they had gone looking for her mother at the neighbours.

"We later found her lifeless body under the rubble," Madibe said.

"The brick wall had collapsed on her while she lay in bed and we were not aware."

Maruleng municipal officials said 321 other houses were blown away and many people were homeless.

The rain storm also washed away clothes, groceries and furniture.

Municipal spokesman John Seokoma, who visited the affected families with mayor Junior Mafogo, said they would provide tents, food parcels, water, blankets and clothing for the destitute families.

Meanwhile, the South African Weather Bureau warned yesterday that more rain was expected in the area this week.