Durban - Two girls, aged 8 and 13, died after being struck by lightning in Bayafuthi, Msinga, on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast on Monday. Nomcebo Shabalala and Amahle Sithole were on their way to school when they were struck.

Weziwe Thusi, Acting MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) said: "This is a devastating blow to the entire community and a sad reminder that we are now in the summer season where the frequency of lightning incidents has somehow increased from what it used to be due to the reality of climate change. While this is an act of nature, it is a growing problem especially in summer and warrants that we all learn methods of adapting to these unpredictable weather patterns. We wish to assure the affected families of our support and assistance. The uMzinyathi District Disaster Centre has been directed to work very close with the bereaved families". 

Cogta is appealing to residents to heed storm warnings. 

The department in partnership with municipalities will continue its awareness campaigns and partner with the schools to ensure that children at a young age are armed with information on what to do to cope with the growing problems caused by natural disasters.

“We also advise communities to install lightning rods at their homes as part of mitigating the impact,” Thusi said.

KZN Cogta is also considering recommending the crafting of by-laws in municipalities that would compel all public facilities such as schools, hospitals, community halls and new infrastructure to feature lightning conductors that meet the nationally determined standards for safety.

Daily News