DURBAN - Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize on Friday led a government delegation to visit members of the Pentecostal Holiness Church in Dlangubo in northern Kwazulu-Natal who were injured when part of the building caved in, claiming the lives of 13 fellow congregants.
According to a statement by government, the deceased were mainly women and included a 13-year-old girl.
"Most of the deceased church members come largely from three areas, six are from uLundi, four from Esikhawini, and three from Maqhwakaza," Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said in the statement she read out as she visited the church on Friday.
She said 16 people were also injured when a front wall of the church collapsed around 10.15 pm. They were preparing to go to sleep in sections of the church after attending a Passover service.
"The incident is believed to have happened around 10:15pm following a short prayer service that took place at the marquee behind us. This happened as congregants were preparing to rest, when a large part of the front wall collapsed causing the traumatic disaster that has brought all of us here.
On Friday evening, Mkhize along with KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and the mayor of uMhlathuzi, MG Mhlongo, visited five victims who suffered severe injuries in Ngwelezane hospital, just outside Empangeni.
The ANC spokeswoman for the province, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, was also part of the delegation.
Eleven people suffered minor injuries, and were treated in the Ngwelezane clinic and released.
Oliphant said government wanted to offer its support to those who lost loved ones in the disaster.
"It is heartbreaking that the Easter holidays have commenced with such a catastrophe," she said.
It is believed that heavy rainfall in the region compromised the structure of the church.
African News Agency (ANA)