South Africa: 'The Wall Collapsed. She Was Trapped' - Heartbreak As KZN Tornado Claims Lives, Destroy Homes

13 November 2019

While a rand value estimation of damages is yet to be determined following a KwaZulu-Natal tornado, the loss of life has left the eMpolweni community in New Hanover outside of Pietermaritzburg heartbroken and devastated.

Thuleyliwe Ndlovu, a mother of three, lost her 40-year-old daughter Sphe Ndlovu. She was distraught on Wednesday as rescue teams and officials arrived in the ravaged community.

She said there had been heavy winds and rain which led them to take shelter.

"We ran into the house and closed the door. After we closed the door, I went to the bedroom to look for a jersey. While I was looking for the jersey, I heard the roof tiles making a huge noise. When I looked up, there were no tiles on the roof."

Ndlovu then heard "loud screaming".

"It seems the wall had also collapsed. It means when the tiles were taken off the roof, the wall also collapsed on [Sphe]. She was trapped under the rubble and one of the sofas."

She said a concrete block was also on top of her daughter.

"I couldn't move the blocks because they are heavy. I tried and tried until the neighbours came to help me."

On the other side of the settlement, the family of Nonhlanhla Buthelezi, 45, were in deep mourning. A tree fell onto her home, instantly killing her.

Speaking to the media, her friend Kho Ndlovu said Buthelezi was beside herself.

"She worked for me as a helper, but more than that, she was part of my family. She was coming to work when this happened. She saw the bad weather and went to put pots [down] for leaks from rain, and the tree fell on her."

She said Buthelezi was a "wonderful person".

"She was a good decent person. I cannot believe this."

Rescue teams and officials

When entering eMpolweni, officials and rescue teams were met with scenes of disaster. Countless roofs had been blown away, houses reduced to rubble and infrastructure, including electricity poles, knocked down.

The region's sub-station that the tornado went through was not severely damaged, with one Eskom official saying most of the facilities were still in good working condition.

In a statement on Wednesday, Eskom said it was working to restore the power to around 5 000 customers.

NGOs such as Gift of the Givers and the Department of Social Development were on the scene to assist those affected.

Further poor weather conditions were expected on Wednesday evening, heading into Thursday, for KwaZulu-Natal where a total of five people have been killed since Monday due to storms.

The tornado left many on social media shocked and even doubting the authenticity of the video.

Disaster management teams have been put on standby once again.

News24

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