12 October 2017

South Africa: Storm Leaves Durban Shack Dwellers Destitute

Photo: Khumbulani Ntshatsha/GroundUp
A home in Umlazi ruined in the storm that hit Durban on Tuesday.

In the aftermath of Tuesday's storm, shack dwellers in Durban have been picking up the pieces, hanging up their blankets and clothes, and trying to dry out beds and mattresses.

On Wednesday, a sunny clear sky gave no hint of the heavy rain, hail and high winds of the day and night before. According to the provincial government at least eight people died in the storm. The floods also caused severe damage to schools, hospitals and roads.

Bongiwe Mtshawuli was one of those left homeless in the community of Foreman Road in Clare Estate. She shares a one-room shack with her daughter, Phumla, and her four grandchildren.

"We could feel the house shake with every blow [of the wind] and my biggest fear was of the tree ... It sounded like it was going to fall on top of us," said Mtshawuli.

What did fall over was one wall of the house. "It was with such a force. It pushed my bed to the end of the house and everything that was in the way. I'm just glad nobody was on the bed. The children were really scared," she said.

"The community around here is very helpful. The neighbours have helped us move to a safer vacant room while we figure out where to begin with the repairs to the house," she said.

S'bongile Maphumulo in Cato Crest, Mayville, found her house blocked by mud when she came home from work. "My house is situated in a corner, and is at the bottom of the hill. The water and mud from up the road was piled-up at my door-step. I couldn't even get inside the house. My child, who had come back from school, had found refuge at the house next door. I couldn't see my bed, clothes or food. Everything was in mud, and what was not had been swept away."

"Today I have been going around even to [other] people's yards, finding bits and pieces of clothes and shoes. All the food is gone and all the furniture was destroyed. I haven't a clue what I will feed my child," she said in tears.

Many of the homes GroundUp visited in Cato Crest and Clare Estate were ruined or damaged. Silver City in Umlazi V Section seemed to be worst affected.

Muzumuni Ngiba of Cato Crest said that a tree fell on top of three houses. Ngiba reported it to disaster management and shack dweller movment Abahlali Basemjondolo.

Neighbours Nonjabulo Mbuqe and Lungisani Dlamini, had both their homes blown away in the high winds.

While Dlamini has found shelter with a friend in Silver City, Mbuqe said her children are now staying at a neighbours'. She is unemployed.

"While sleeping, I felt the house move," said Dlamini. "I tried getting out of the house but the hail was too much. The house never stopped shaking, and a few minutes after, it moved off the foundation ... When I got out, the house just flew away into rubble and then nothing," he said.

"We're lucky the sun is out today; this way we can dry clothes and pack them away in buckets. That's all we have left ... I have not a cent. I have no plan on how I am going to pick up the pieces of my home. I am simply homeless," said Dlamini.

Umlazi V ward Councillor David Maphumulo, where Silver City is located, said, "We have been working with the ward committees in the area and are currently waiting on the report from disaster management to inform us how they will help those who lost their homes."

Councillor Hassan Harrif of Clare Estate said that the ward is waiting on disaster management to give feedback on how residents affected by the storm will be aided.

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