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SANDF lends a helping hand to Brettonwood High School and the Umbilo community after the floods

A flooded classroom at Brettonwood High School. The SANDF rendered assistance to the school and the community of Umbilo after the deadly floods. Picture: Lieutenant Zarkia Tinambo

A flooded classroom at Brettonwood High School. The SANDF rendered assistance to the school and the community of Umbilo after the deadly floods. Picture: Lieutenant Zarkia Tinambo

Published May 30, 2022

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Durban – Clean-up efforts continue in Umbilo, Durban, especially at the flood-damaged Brettonwood High School.

The SANDF’s Lieutenant Zarkia Tinambo said six South African Infantry brought relief to the residents of Umbilo.

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Tinambo said the morning of April 12, 2022 came with varying emotions as the damage caused by the previous night’s heavy rains was assessed by Ellen Zizhou, principal of Brettonwood High School and her pupils. Shortly afterwards, KwaZulu-Natal was declared a national disaster area.

The SANDF was deployed to help clean up after mud poured into Brettonwood High School and Umbilo in the recent devastating floods. Picture: Lieutenant Zarkia Tinambo

Tinambo said in reaction to the declaration, the SANDF was instructed to deploy “specific assets” in support of the disaster relief efforts.

One of the support elements deployed to Umbilo was three companies of soldiers from 6 South African Infantry Battalion’s Job Masego Regiment, Tshwane Regiment and Bambatha Rifles.

Tinambo said under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Sibusiso Amos Mbuyazi the three companies rendered services of clearing up the river canal and performing repair work on bridges.

Mud poured into Brettonwood High School during the floods recently. Picture: Lieutenant Zarkia Tinambo

“In the process of conducting their duties, Lieutenant-Colonel Mbuyazi discovered Brettonwood High School, which is built near the Umbilo river canal and was devastated by the floods, when the water submerged the entire school and left the teachers and students distraught by the damage,” Tinambo said.

“Alpha Company under the command of Captain Mzikayise Benjamin Mawana, was allocated the special task of restoring the dignity of the school by clearing mud out of the classrooms and offices, and unblocking the school’s drainage system which was clogged up by sand.”

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Tinambo said Zizhou expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the SANDF, stating that the school staff and Umbilo community had been trying for days to repair the damage in order for the pupils not to be disadvantaged academically, but extra hands were certainly needed.

The SANDF helped with mopping-up operations at Brettonwood High School and Umbilo, which were severely impacted by the recent floods. Picture: Lieutenant Zarkia Tinambo

“This school is not just a centre for learning but a place of heart, compassion and passion. Without the help of the soldiers, we would not be able to focus on teaching and preparing our students for their mid-year exams,” Zizhou said.

This month, IOL reported that the school appealed for community assistance as it continues to rebuild after last month’s devastating rains.

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Brettonwood High School was badly hit by the April floods.

The SANDF lends a helping hand at Brettonwood High School and Umbilo, which were devastated by the recent floods. Picture: Lieutenant Zarkia Tinambo

“Our school is situated in a valley and has a river running alongside it. The river overflowed onto the premises, flooding and damaging all infrastructure in its wake, mainly on the ground floor. The fence surrounding the school has collapsed. Both school vehicles were flooded. The swimming pool and fields were filled and covered in mud.

“The archives room was flooded and all records destroyed. The water level reached a height of about 2 meters in the rooms on the ground floor, which included classrooms, the school hall and offices,” Zizhou said.

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