AN AERIAL picture showing the extent of severe storms and a tornado that hit parts of KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday. Leon Lestrade African News Agency (ANA).
Durban - MPOLWENI has not yet been declared a national disaster area after a tornado hit the rural community just outside Pietermaritzburg.

Two people were confirmed dead and several injured when the tornado destroyed many homes and infrastructure in the area.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Sipho Hlomuka explained there was still a process to follow before Mpolweni was declared a national disaster area.

He said they had met the executive council of the KwaZulu-Natal cabinet on Wednesday, when they discussed the matter and decided to activate all disaster management teams.

Residents and the DA’s provincial spokesperson on Cogta, Mbali Ntuli, called for answers on whether Cogta in KZN was aware of the tornado and whether it had warned residents.

On thursday Hlomuka responded on the department’s website that it informed KZN residents daily and he also included alerts on his personal Facebook page.

“If there are people who are saying they did not hear us, we want to apologise to them but we request them to also follow the page, those who are on Facebook or Twitter. But also, when we are engaging with the media, we also inform people and ask them to be cautious because of the heavy rains,” Hlomuka said.

“We want to apologise to those who are saying we are not doing well, we’re going to learn or improve from what we have been doing so far.”

Meanwhile, forecasters at the SAWeather Service (Saws) said the nature and extent of the damage caused by the tornado was still being investigated and only then would there be sufficient information to determine the tornado’s strength according to the Enhanced Fujita scale.

Reports suggested it was expected to be a level three on the scale.

Saws forecasters said a watch had been issued for severe thunderstorms in KZN at 5.53am on Tuesday. It was then upgraded at 2.32pm for selected local municipalities.

“As is standard practice in other countries, Saws issues alerts and warnings for severe thunderstorms that could lead to tornadoes, but not for individual tornadoes,” the forecasters said.

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