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Durban - Two young siblings were crushed to death by large rocks and old car tyres that were swept by heavy rains onto their shack in Bayview, Chatsworth on Monday night.
They were among 14 fatalities in KwaZulu-Natal that have been blamed on Monday night’s torrential rains.
Ntsika Lamle, 14, and his sister Slindile, 5, were sleeping on the floor in the shack
, which was partially destroyed by a mudslide. Slindile’s twin brother, Lindokuhle, and their mother, Nomafu Lamle, escaped with their lives.
A traumatised Lamle, who works as a part-time domestic worker, described the horror of finding her children covered by mud and debris.
She said she had left the bedroom to find a plastic bag to block the raindrops that were leaking onto her bed. While in the other room, she heard a loud bang
. “I ran back into the room and saw a big hole through the wall and my children covered in mud,” she said, adding that the rain was pouring into the shack, which was built with scrap material.
“I then kicked the door open and screamed for help.”
Sibusiso Luthuli, a relative, arrived to help.
“The children were still asleep and heard nothing,” Lamle said. “I struggled to set them free and rescued Lindokuhle who started crying.”
The children were not recognisable by the time they were moved from the scene, she said.
Slindile would have entered Grade R at Summerfield Primary in Bayview in January, and Ntsika Grade 7
at the same school.
The little girl’s last words to her mother was about her sleeping on the cold floor.
“She said to me, ‘mama when are you getting us a bed? It’s cold on the floor’, and I told her ‘my baby, I will organise that once you stop wetting the bed’,” said Lamle before bursting into tears.
Teddy bears, clothes, toothbrushes and books were scattered across the damaged shack dwelling when a Daily News team arrived on the scene on Tuesday. The furniture was destroyed and a part of the shack was on the bank of a nearby fast-flowing river.
Priscilla Luthuli, a church friend and neighbour who is accommodating Lamle, said she wished the lives of the children had been spared.
At least five other shacks near Lamle’s were destroyed by the heavy rains, including Martin Ntini’s home that was crushed by his neighbour’s shack when rocks and tyres spewed down a hill.
No-one was hurt, but furniture and appliances were buried in the mud and debris.
Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube confirmed six deaths in Chatsworth, two in uMlazi, one in Clermont and one in uMzinto.
Dassenhoek area councillor, Patrick Mfeka, said four children died and four were injured on Monday night after a wall collapsed on them while they were sleeping. The four children were still in ICU, Mfeka said.
Dube described the storm as a “pall of doom” and thanked those who had helped families.
“While a disaster of such calamitous proportions can induce shock from even the most stoic of us, we are heartened by the heroic deeds of ordinary men and women, who risked their lives to save property and their fellow human beings,” she said in a statement.
Dube had visited some of the victims yesterday, along with eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo.
Bayview ward councillor Brandon Pillay described the area where the shacks were damaged as “not suitable for living”. He was busy arranging for the burial of the two siblings in the Eastern Cape.
At least 42 families from the informal settlement were moved to the Bayview community hall as a precaution
The Gift of the Givers, KZN Department Social Development and South African Social Security Agency were helping affected residents, providing, blankets, mattresses and food.
Meanwhile, the M1 (Higginson Highway) between Pinetown and Mariannhill was also damaged by the rain. The section of the highway was blocked to traffic after a 3m-wide hole appeared.