Storm victims still waiting for help

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Distraught residents of Jolivet on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast are upset that the government has failed to come to their rescue after a storm destroyed about 1000 homes.

The storm was the third to strike in the province, leaving many people dead since last month.

At least 1000 houses were destroyed in Jolivet, Njane, Hlutankungu and Nkawini in Highflats at the weekend.

But the communities feel neglected because they have not received any help from the provincial government.

Thembeka Mkhize, 67, said her family escaped death when their home was blown away by the storm on Thursday.

"We have not heard anything from our government since the disaster. We're lucky that [sheets of] corrugated iron did not kill people here like in other areas," Mkhize said. But people's houses were flattened.

"The storm lasted only a few minutes but uprooted trees, destroyed crops and blew away the roofs of houses.

"I heard that we were not the first ones to experience such havoc."

Mkhize said it would have been better had the government supplied tents to the families whose houses were destroyed.

"We have embarked on mopping-up operations and rebuilding. But there are people spending the night under the sky.

"But food will make a big difference to the people left with nothing."

Police spokesman Vincent Pandarum said a storm claimed the life of a 17-year-old boy and caused extensive damage to a school and houses in the area.

Pandarum said Njabulo Hadebe was swimming in the Umkomazi River in Springvale when he was struck and killed by lightning.

A fortnight ago Molweni was hit by a storm that left 10 people dead and 1000 families destitute.

Mandla Ngema, the spokesman for the department of social development, said it was their intention to help all the victims.

"We have dispatched our regional manager to identify the storm victims. But people should also visit our offices and report their plight."