DURBAN – Visibly moved, President Cyril Ramaphosa made his way around the Chatsworth area on Wednesday afternoon to survey some of the damage left in the wake of a deadly storm that swept through the province on Monday night.
“My God,” whispered Ramaphosa as he was shown the remains of a groundskeeper’s cottage at a school in Chatsworth where eight bodies – including those of children - were retrieved on Tuesday.
The home was shared by three families and collapsed during a mudslide, the result of about 300 mm of hard rain that pounded the province but was particularly intense in Chatsworth, Malvern and Umlazi, all part of the eThekwini Municipality.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, and her provincial human settlements counterpart, Ravi Pillay, were pointing out the scene of the destruction to Ramaphosa as they trudged through thick mud.
Ramaphosa arrived in the province early on Wednesday after cutting short an African Union emergency meeting.
Joining him on the walkabout were Cogta minister Zweli Mkhize, Police Minister Bheki Cele, eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and a host of other local and provincial officials.
While Dube-Ncube had said earlier that the death toll from the storm stood at 51, Ramaphosa said the figure was now closer to 60.
The president will continue on to other areas ravaged by the storm and will then travel to the Eastern Cape, which has also experienced severe flooding that has so far resulted in three known deaths.
African News Agency (ANA)