After the storm


NATURAL DISASTER: This is one of the many houses that were destroyed by heavily gusting winds in Manzimdaka Village at Cala on Sunday Picture: ABONGILE SOLUNDWANA

A tornado left five people including three children dead and many homeless as it ripped through Manzimdaka Village at Cala late on Sunday night.

The tornado struck the village after heavy thunder and lightning, followed by a hailstorm, with hail stones as big as a fist, residents said.

The tornado hit after 11pm and is said to have lasted for about 45 minutes.

Those killed were Yolatha Dulani, nine, Akho Hlaba, two, Olwam Mbalo, eight, Ntsikelelo Xawuka, who was in his late 70s, and Simelela Xawuka, 55.

A distraught Nontsapho Hlaba said: “My two-year-old grandson, Akho, died screaming and crying out to me on my chest, but I could not do anything to help him when the bricks fell on us.

We have never witnessed anything like this.”

Noxolile Dolani said: “I was woken by the wind and while I was assessing the weather, huge hail stones broke our windows, followed by a violent wind.

I ran to shield my two- and four-year-old grandchildren on the bed and my grandson Liyolatha was sleeping near my feet.

Suddenly the wall fell on me and I could not move. I struggled for the three of us to find a way to breathe under the rubble, until we were rescued.

However, Liyolatha was badly injured by the roof falling on him.”

Ward councillor Zilindile Mose said: “We managed to find all the missing people who died after the winds subsided, with the help of the police.”

Mose said 11 people who were admitted to Cala Hospital were all discharged by Tuesday.

The only patient who has not returned is an infant less than a month old. The baby is being looked after by the mother in Frere Hospital in East London,” he said.

Police spokesperson Namhla Mdleleni said the police had opened an inquest.

The residents who were left homeless were accommodated in a church.

The strong wind left the majority of houses without roofs, electricity poles were down and tanks broken.

Zinc was scattered about the village.

According to the latest report issued by Sakhisizwe executive mayor Buyiswa Ntsere on Wednesday, the village had about 400 houses, of which more than 200 were damaged and 28 were completely demolished.

On Monday, transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana was deployed by premier Oscar Mabuyane to stand in for corporate governance and traditional affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha.

Nqatha visited the village on Tuesday.

Tikana said: “This will cost the government large amounts of money because houses were badly damaged.

The most critical issue is sending condolences to the families who have lost loved ones.

To lose a loved one is not an easy journey.

We brought blankets and groceries for the bereaved while they are waiting for government aid.

The department of home affairs will need to come on board for people who have lost their identity documents.”

Chris Hani District Municipality mayor, Wongama Gela, said: “The situation is really bad but we do not yet have accurate figures of how much damage occurred. When the disaster management team has completed its assessment they will report on the number of houses affected.

We are worried about the accommodation, but some families were willing to take in others.”

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