Durban - Intense lightning during a thunderstorm killed a nine-year-old boy in Richmond on Sunday afternoon, and his 2-year-old sister, who was also struck, is fighting for her life in hospital.
Three other people were hit by lightning at different places in Magoda, while many were left homeless.
An elderly woman was admitted to hospital for injuries sustained when the roof of her house collapsed, while others suffered minor injuries.
Two wards in Magoda were the worst affected by the storm, which hit the area at 4pm and lasted for about 10 minutes.
Richmond mayor Andrew Ragavaloo, also a councillor in one of the wards, spoke to an uncle of the child who died.
He said the family lived in a dilapidated house in the central business area of the town.
The mother, Zandile Mbeje, and two children, Ayanda, 9, and Akhona, 2, were huddled together when lightning struck the building.
The older child was hit in the head and died instantly, while his sister suffered burns. Ragavaloo said Akhona had become partly paralysed.
The mother was burnt on her thighs and was also admitted to hospital.
Ragavaloo visited the area, where he saw the devastation left by the storm.
He said about 60 homes – accommodating about 300 people, among them 140 schoolchildren – were either partly or completely destroyed.
“I saw stationery, school uniforms, bags and books among the rubble… we have to assist these children and also meet the principal to see what can be done,” he said.
Disaster teams from the province, district and Richmond municipality were assisting people.
The extent of the damage was still being assessed.
Tents, food parcels and blankets were distributed to those in need.
Municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole said the homes had been built by the residents, some with mud blocks. He said it had been the worst storm to hit the town in the past five years.