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Gift of the Givers in KZN seeks help to retrieve body trapped under rubble since Monday

A bridge collapsed on Ntuzuma Road at Nhlungwane.
A bridge collapsed on Ntuzuma Road at Nhlungwane.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Gift of the Givers on Wednesday said it was assisting in efforts to retrieve the body of woman who was buried under a collapsed wall in Durban North.

Taking to its social media accounts, the disaster response NGO said the body had been trapped under the rubble since Monday.

“We are urgently looking for a [Bobcat] to excavate a deceased individual who passed on in Durban North when the wall of the house collapsed. Search and rescue teams have been battling since Monday night to retrieve the body,” said group founder Imtiaz Sooliman.

Explaining the situation, Sooliman told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE: “This is a property that has two homes. The rain pushed the boundary wall through the dining room of the one house. There was a huge sound like a lightning storm. A few minutes later, the boundary wall lower down collapsed on the neighbour's house, directly on the domestic's room.

“The domestic was buried under the wall. From Monday evening SAPS search and rescue teams have been battling to [reach her] manually. No equipment is available as there is huge demand everywhere. The search and rescue urgently require a Bobcat to retrieve the body and arrange a dignified funeral.”

The woman is one of more than 200 who have died since parts of the province were battered by heavy rains that led to flooding, mudslides and houses, roads and walls collapsing.

In a statement, the humanitarian organisation said its interventions would not interfere with those by the government.

“Our criteria are clear: roads, bridges, drainage and public infrastructure are a governmental responsibility, though Gift of the Givers will possibly consider schools and health infrastructure for repair,” it said.

“Private homes and businesses should be covered by insurance companies, while it's the informal settlements, houses in low-lying locations and the non-insured that are dependent on a compassionate nation to assist them in their hour of distress.

“The need is huge, with massive damage to roads, highways turned into rivers, shipping containers floating on the N2, retaining walls collapsed with people trapped underneath, cars have been washed away, debris and trees blocking roads, people can't get to work, health facilities had to reduce services, religious institutions, as well as many homes, have been damaged, electrical infrastructure is non-functional aggravating load-shedding, streams have become raging rivers, people have lost their lives.

“Those making it to work have to carry extra shoes and socks as they walk through streams to get to transport that has to negotiate high levels of water on roads.”

It said it was open to donations for hot meals, blankets, bottled water, warm clothes, sanitary pads and nappies for those affected.

Food parcels, school uniforms and stationery will be provided where the need arises, while building material will be considered, as well as repairs to damaged school infrastructure.

Contributions to Gift of the Givers can be made to Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg, account number 052137228, branch code 057525 with the reference “KZN Floods”.

“Please send the deposit slip to donations@giftofthegivers.org for a formal acknowledgment and to request a Section 18A tax-deductible certificate,” the organisation said.


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