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Army’s Operation Chariot to bolster rescue and relief efforts in disaster-ravaged KZN

A house in Ekukhanyeni in Pinetown balances precariously on a slope after torrential rains hammered parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
A house in Ekukhanyeni in Pinetown balances precariously on a slope after torrential rains hammered parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Disaster relief in KwaZulu-Natal will get a much needed boost thanks to the army, which is sending 10,000 members to help with relief, rescue and rebuilding the province following torrential rains that left more than 400 people dead and thousands homeless.

On Monday, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said it was deploying members as part of Operation Chariot to assist with disaster management efforts and activities including providing protection, support for mop-up work, extraction, technical assessments and transportation of humanitarian relief, equipment and goods.

The army said the response was motivated by the destructive torrential rains affecting more than 30,000 people and damaging houses, schools, roads, bridges, buildings and economic and business infrastructure.

“There is the immediate activation of 5 x Battalion Headquarters and 15 x Companies, which include support and engineer capabilities, to mobilise in the province. The additional 45 x Companies will be in a readiness state to mobilise, when and if instructed, to render support as part of disaster relief teams in KwaZulu-Natal. The deploying troops will include regulars and reserves.”

On Sunday the province said it had received 38 call outs, about 63 people were missing or unaccounted for and the death toll stood at 443. 

The army said it will assist with air capabilities including search and rescue, extraction, reconnaissance/assessment missions and transportation of humanitarian relief,  equipment and goods with the provision of two medium utility helicopters, two light utility helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft.

In addition to the loss of life, communities throughout the province have suffered water and electricity outages.

“The army pledges includes 31 10,000 litre water bunkers, three water provisioning systems, two  water points with 1 litre bottled water/plastic sachets, a platoon of electricians and plumbers, 60 tents and bedding for the affected communities.”

The SA Military Health Services will join forces to provide medical support including ambulances, doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and pharmacists as needed.

“The arms will also provide logistics in the form of technical expertise to help in disaster management efforts and activities. This could include construction equipment and artisans.”


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