Durban - With matric exams less than a week away, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education (DoE) has said all schools will be able to administer the papers.
Speaking to The Mercury on Tuesday, department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said several schools were damaged, especially in the Mtubatuba area, northern KZN, during the weekend storms.
However, he said “there is no school that cannot administer exams”.
A government delegation led by KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube visited Mtubatuba on Monday.
Following the visit, the premier directed the provincial government to accelerate the urgent repair to critical infrastructure such as schools, homes and roads.
A statement from the provincial government said the storm wreaked havoc in most of the province’s districts, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, and the death toll had since risen to eight.
“Many schools and homes have been damaged and electricity infrastructure destroyed, leaving people homeless and in the dark. As the province, our budget alone will not suffice to cover the cost of this devastation,” said Dube-Ncube.
The premier said all responsible functionaries must ensure classrooms were urgently cleared of debris where possible and temporary classroom structures installed urgently, where there was total damage, to ensure that the commencement of matric exams was not disrupted.
“I am deeply saddened by the devastating impact of the recent storm on these communities. We are actively devising plans to assist all those affected. We are engaging national government to request support as we face this disaster,” she said.
National Teachers’ Union (Natu) president Sibusiso Malinga said the damage to schools in the northern parts of the province was a disaster.
“We pray that the DoE responds swiftly and comes up with alternative venues if possible. This will need a contingency plan, otherwise we are heading for trouble,” he warned.
Eskom spokesperson Joyce Zingoni said the entity’s infrastructure was badly damaged by the storm, which resulted in high volumes of faults as well as long power outages.
Zingoni said Eskom’s technicians were working around the clock to restore supply; however, repairs would take time in some areas.
She said the areas mostly affected included Mtubatuba, Nkandla, Richards Bay, Ulundi, Ixopo, Kokstad, Harding and Hibberdene.
“Power has been restored to most high-voltage infrastructure and all sub-stations are back on. However, there are multiple poles that have fallen and contractors and Eskom technicians are working at repairing these. There is no estimated time of restoration as some faults haven’t been reported and technicians are discovering these as they work.”
KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Siboniso Mngadi said the death toll had risen to eight as a result of lightning strikes.
“The most recent fatalities were reported in Inkosi Langalibalele Local Municipality within the uThukela District and Nquthu Local Municipality in the uMzinyathi District. Assessments continue across our province,” he said.
Mngadi said the latest report indicated that nearly 1 000 houses were damaged, affecting more than 4 000 people.
“In the health sector, seven health facilities, including two hospitals in eThekwini and Ladysmith, were also impacted. In education, the number of affected schools currently stands at 42, with the majority, 34, located in the uMkhanyakude District. In agriculture, three farming projects, including two broilers and a piggery house, were damaged in Mtubatuba. Additionally, 350 hectares of crops have been affected in the Mtubatuba area,” he said.
Cogta added that the government was co-ordinating efforts across all departments and social partners, including the South African Red Cross and the SANDF, to provide assistance with disaster relief and clean-up operations.
The premier said the provincial government would assist the families of the deceased with burial arrangements.