KZN premier calls for a state of disaster

A man walks in water through a pile of debris following the floods that caused extensive damaged to property and life. / RAJESH JANTILA / AFP
A man walks in water through a pile of debris following the floods that caused extensive damaged to property and life. / RAJESH JANTILA / AFP

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has designated May 2 as a day of prayer as it mourns 70 flood victims and other people who died over the past weeks.

Yesterday, KZN premier Willies Mchunu asked the national government for assistance, and to declare a provincial state of disaster following a special executive meeting which was held on Friday to discuss the disaster response plan.

"As a mark of respect to honour our fallen compatriots, the provincial executive council has resolved to declare Thursday, May 2 as the provincial day of prayer, mourning and memorial service to show solidarity with the bereaved families and to pray for those who have passed away as well as for an end to these tragedies in our province," Mchunu said.

Just as KZN was still in shock after 13 people were killed on April 18 when a wall collapsed on congregants, floods wreaked havoc, leaving a trail of destruction.

Mchunu said the death toll stood at 70 after the body of a young man was recovered in eTshelimnyama near Marianhill on Sunday.

The floods left 1,469 people without shelter and had to be accommodated by their neighbours, friends and in community halls.

More than 50 people were injured.

"We continue to search for the two citizens that are still missing. It was indeed hard to believe what we saw as we observed houses and walls collapsing amid mudslides, killing some people instantly. We again express our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families," Mchunu said.

Damage caused on public and private infrastructure is estimated at R1.1bn in eThekwini alone, excluding the neighbouring coastal areas of Ugu, iLembe and King Cetshwayo districts.

The government, together with NGOs and private sector, have been providing humanitarian support, including food, blankets, mattresses and other key necessities.

"Three mortuaries, namely Gale Street, Pinetown and Phoenix, have stationed dedicated staff to assist with identification processes so that there are no delays from the government's side that would impact on the funeral dates," Mchunu said.

He said the department of home affairs had fast-tracked the issuing of IDs and other documents to the affected families while the SA Social Security Agency was providing affected children with school uniforms.

Families who lost their loved ones will also receive support for burials.

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