Residents describe tragic storm impact in eThekwini

Bonga Zungu surveys the few belongings left after his mother’s house collapsed during Saturday’s flood killing her and his nephew. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Bonga Zungu surveys the few belongings left after his mother’s house collapsed during Saturday’s flood killing her and his nephew. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 16, 2024


A Durban man made the grim discovery on Sunday of his mother and 4-year-old nephew’s tragic deaths in Verulam in the flash floods that ravaged parts of eThekwini Municipality.

The floods on Saturday saw six people killed and at least two are missing after homes collapsed and infrastructure sustained significant damage.

Bonga Zungu said on Monday that he was in shock. He had arrived at Zwelisha informal settlement on Sunday to find that the house that his mother stayed in was no longer there.

He said his 55-year-old mother and nephew had been sleeping when the structure collapsed on top of them.

The structure was located on the edge of a river bank.

He said he had no way of contacting his nephew’s parents by phone and would travel to Inanda to inform them of the tragedy.

“This is too difficult. I am in shock.

This is the second time the house collapsed. Last year the neighbour’s wall collapsed and we asked them to replace it with a fence instead but they did not want to listen and rebuilt the wall and it collapsed again,” he said.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda said that police officers in Verulam have opened inquest dockets for investigation.

“Police responded to reports of a structural collapse and upon arrival it was discovered the wall had collapsed and fell on the structure the two were in.

Heavy rains are suspected to have been the cause behind the collapsing of the wall,” he said.

On Monday, eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda led a delegation of municipal officials to visit the affected areas.

Khethiwe Buthelezi, who lives in a housing development in Cornubia, said she was lucky to be alive after the drain got blocked near her home and water began gushing into the house.

“I went to bed early because I had work the next day. I woke up when I heard a loud noise. The fridge had fallen over and my bed began to float,” she said.

According to Buthelezi, the water was moving fast and quickly filled the home.

She said she and the three others in the house could not get out because the door was stuck.

“If it wasn’t for a neighbour who came and broke the door down, who knows what would have happened.”

Buthelezi said the water was head high and that she was hit in the eye by the microwave floating in the water while she was attempting to exit the house.

“I was crying and so scared, I need counselling,” she said.

The mayor said the City’s leadership had an emergency meeting on Monday and preliminary reports indicated that the death toll had risen to six while two people remain missing.

He said a man was washed away in his vehicle and he was discovered deceased, adding that the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department would make an official announcement.

Kaunda said the City had also experienced severe damage to its infrastructure.

He said with regard to water, most of the pump stations have been flooded and this affects the manner in which water is pumped to communities because power generators have collapsed.

This includes the water treatment works in oThongathi, he said. “It’s going to affect a number of households in oThongathi because that’s a water plant that supplies the majority of residents in oThongathi so we will be mitigating (the impact) by providing water tankers in the areas that have been affected.”

Kaunda said power stations and substations were also affected.

He said teams are on the ground conducting assessments on road, water and electricity damage and where possible on-the-spot repairs will be conducted.

“We are managing the situation but it’s beyond the resources that we have as we all know. That is why we are quantifying the damages so that when we put in an application through the provincial government to the national government we will have the magnitude of damages.”

The Mercury