Pietermaritzburg – The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Disaster Management would like to provide an update on the death toll recorded in the months of December and January as a result of inclement weather.

As our teams continue with assessments, the number of people who have tragically passed away has increased to 40, with five still reported as missing. These numbers have increased as our teams continue with assessment while the inclement weather still persists in various parts of the province.

In recent incidents, three drownings were reported in the Harry Gwala District, while two farmworkers were struck by lightning in Bergville. We would also like to confirm that two people have been discovered by the search and rescue teams in Ladysmith; however, their identities are pending confirmation through DNA if it matches with the ones reported missing.

The rains have also left 74 people injured, some were transported to hospitals, while others were treated on the scene. About 800 households suffered damages, with a total of 247 dwellings completely destroyed. This has left 47 people homeless, and over 4000 people have been affected.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, extends her heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. The department has been in contact with all those affected and is providing necessary support as part of our disaster relief efforts, working together with our social partners. We appreciates the commitment shown by rescue team lead by the SAPS K9 Unit with the support of Al-Imdaad Foundation for Disaster, South African Red Cross and IPSS Medical Rescue who made it possible to recover most people reported missing.

“We would like to commend our search and rescue teams, who continue to work tirelessly on the ground to locate those reported missing. While the loss of loved ones is a painful experience, we find solace in the closure that comes when search and rescue teams recover the remains of those who were missing. Some families have already laid their loved ones to rest, and as a department, we have been by their side, providing support. We also wish a speedy recovery to those who have been injured,” she MEC Sithole-Moloi.

As heavy rains are expected to persist, we strongly advise our community members to remain extra vigilant during rainfall. Those who are driving should exercise caution and never attempt to cross swollen rivers.