Residents of the Harry Gwala district municipality have been urged to exercise extreme caution as their area is prone to weather-related disasters, such as runaway veld fires, thunderstorms with lightning, hailstorms and heavy rains resulting in flooding. 

This was the message from KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka when he launched the Summer Season Disaster Awareness Campaign in the district today at the Morningside Sports Ground, Ixopo. 

The campaign will raise awareness within communities about the dangers posed by inclement weather conditions, especially in summer. Hlomuka also officially opened the multi-million rand Fire and Rescue Centre built by the department in partnership with the uBuhlebezwe local municipality. 

The Rescue Centre houses firefighters and other disaster management teams and is located in the township of Morningside. According to uBuhlebezwe Mayor, Cllr Ngubo, Morningside was an obvious choice for this structure because government is keen to build key infrastructure in townships.

According to Hlomuka, his department will continue to invest millions of rand into improving the ability of municipalities to respond to disasters with specialised centres and equipment. “When we build municipal capacity to respond to disasters, we are also making our areas attractive to investors and improve the safety of communities,” said Hlomuka. 

Speaking at the event Mayor Nxumalo said: “The opening of this state of the art fire station marks an important milestone in our efforts to ensure safety for our communities. Should any incident strike, we know that assistance will arrive very fast. As we start the summer season, we are ready to face disasters,” said Nxumalo. 

As part of the event, 10 disaster victims, mostly from Ofafa area, received assistance in the form of groceries and other household items. One of the victims Babongile Mthembu (34) lost her son Nhlanzeko (9) in a lightning ancident when he was on his way to school last month.

This week a lightning conductor was installed near her home. “I am very grateful for this intervention. I hope it will help save someone else’s child. I lost mine. I do feel safe now since a lightning conductor was installed. Also having a firestation here will help us as a community,” said Mthembu. 

As part of the programme, Hlomuka also handed over cheques to the 30 local SMMEs who have been identified as Operation Vula beneficiaries.

Issued by Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs