Durban - The province’s disaster management teams were on high alert following three consecutive days of inclement weather conditions, which resulted in flooding in parts of Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas and the life of an 8-year-old girl.
The South African Weather Service (SAWS) issued a level nine weather warning on Wednesday as steady rain began to fall, but its intensity increased over the next two days and left a trail of destruction, which mainly includes damage to roads and infrastructure.
Msunduzi’s mayor, Mzimkhulu Thebolla, said that disaster management teams were on high alert and inspections of affected areas were undertaken.
“Cases of flooded sewer manholes and blocked stormwater drains in and around the Edendale areas were the main focus,” he said. Teams from our sanitation and roads departments were on the ground attending to those situations to ensure accessibility to roads.
“We are appealing to motorists to drive safely and be extra cautious as potholes filled with water could turn into sinkholes,” said Thebolla.
He also offered condolences and support to the family of 8-year-old Rahma Rashida who was swept off the flooded Peace Valley bridge on Thursday. He said the closure of the bridge was being considered, as two lives were lost when it was flooded previously.
The mother of the latest victim, Rahana Aruna, said she was left traumatised after witnessing her child being drawn away by the water.
Aruna said that she had she carried her other daughter, 2-month-old Kudrashi, on her back and had held Rahma’s hand as they walked home from the Peace Valley village.
They usually crossed the bridge as a short-cut to their home. But during Thursday’s attempt to cross the bridge, the strong waters pulled Rahma’s daughter from her grip. A bystander attempted to rescue the child but was unsuccessful.
“Watching your child be swept away is a sight no parent should ever experience. Rahma was screaming out my name as the water pulled her away. “I am unable to sleep nor eat,” said Aruna. Disaster management teams have continued with the search for her body.
In Msinga, heavy rainfall caused the collapse of a house and injured the occupants, who have since been hospitalised. A blocked stormwater drain resulted in the flooding of several homes in Cato Manor, Durban.
Odirile Modipa a SAWS forecaster, said the weather conditions were as a result of an upper trough passing over the central parts of South Africa, a surface trough over the western interior and a raging high pressure system reaching into KwaZulu-Natal. Modipa said no inclement weather was expected over the next few days, across the province.
“For the next few days, we will only have isolated showers and thundershowers in the western parts of KZN, with fine conditions in other parts of the province,” said Modipa.
With mop-up operations under way, MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, said the proactive measures taken by disaster management teams ensured communities were fully aware of the actions they needed to take, had they been confronted with dangerous conditions. “Houses were damaged in a number of districts, with the full extent of the damages still being assessed,” he said.