‘Your house has just collapsed’

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IOL gallery ST Earthquake 070 (43722005) INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Broken windows outside a shop in Stilfontein in North West following Tuesday's earthquake. Picture: Matthews Baloyi

Johannesburg - Ruth Molojwa was still trying to recover from the shock at about 12.30pm, attempting to make sense of what had just happened.

Then a call she hoped she could dismiss as a joke came through.

“Your house has just collapsed,” the voice from the other end of the line said.

It was a neighbour, and she had no reason to joke about such a serious issue.

Molojwa immediately rushed to the taxi rank in Klerksdorp, catching a taxi to Extension 6 in Khuma, Orkney, where more than 200 houses were damaged by the earthquake.

Nothing could have prepared her for what she would see as she stepped out of the taxi.

“When I got off the taxi, my heart sank,” she said, tears streaming down her face.

The house was not really reduced to dust as her neighbour had said, but it was only a matter of time before it collapsed.

Its foundation was shaken and full of cracks.

Disaster risk management officials had to put in reinforcement to prevent the structure from collapsing until they had at least salvaged Molojwa’s belongings.

As the sun set on Tuesday night, she had no idea where her family would spend the night.

“We’ve been living in this house since 1976. We built this house ourselves and I just don’t know what we’re going to do now as we’re unemployed,” said the 54-year-old woman.

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, who said he had to leave in the middle of a meeting in Mahikeng and rush to Khuma, said contingency plans had been made to accommodate affected families.

“It is the responsibility of the government to help when such a disaster happens. We thank God that while it is sad to lose a life, not many lives were lost,” he said.

Earlier in the afternoon, North West Department of Health spokesman Tebogo Lekgethwane said they had not received any reports of serious injuries from patients related to the quake at the province’s hospitals.

At Mafikeng Provincial Hospital, a staffer said: “We’ve had no casualties so far. We just got a communiqué from the premier’s office that people in some buildings should evacuate, but the doctors and nurses are still at the hospital.”

The Star was unable to reach the North West Department of Education by the time of publication.

At about 6.47pm on Tuesday, management at the Tau Lekoa Mine in Orkney were still engaged in a process to evacuate miners who had been working underground at the time of the tremor.

General manager Corné Strydom said on Tuesday night “normal procedure is that in such circumstances, we just don’t take people out. We check first if there isn’t any damage to the structure before evacuating people.”

There were still 500 people waiting to be evacuated by 6.47pm.

 

No injuries or fatalities were reported at the mine.

At about 7.30pm, relatives of those still underground stood around in clumps, waiting anxiously for the miners to be evacuated.

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The Star



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