Malalane: A storm that tore through Mpumalanga on Tuesday night has left one child dead and eight villagers severely injured in hospital, while about 100 households have been displaced.
The storm, which started around 8pm on Tuesday, affected KaMhlushwa, Middelplaas and Mangweni in the Nkomazi area bordering Mozambique and Swaziland.
“A seven-year-old boy was crushed to death when a house fell on him during the storm on the Phosa Valley side of KaMhlushwa near Malalane. Eight other villagers, including the boy’s parents, were sent to hospital after surviving the storm,” said Nkomazi municipal spokesman Cyril Ripinga on Wednesday.
Ripinga said the financial cost of the damage had not been assessed yet.
“We are also not really sure which other areas are affected but in KaMhlushwa, which is the most affected at the moment, we have given the homeless temporary tents and food parcels.
“We are still consulting with the Ehlanzeni district municipality on what else can be done. We are now getting information through the disaster management team about other villages which suffered the same tragedy,” said Ripinga.
Provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesman, Simphiwe Kunen,e said the only area that was affected in the province was Nkomazi and that a team had been sent to the area to assess the damage.
“What we know now is that only Nkomazi municipality was affected. We have sent officials to do assessments and then we will know how much the damage is, and what help needed temporarily while we make assessments,” he said.
He said the storm came just as the department was finalising the rebuilding of infrastructure that was damaged in similar weather at the beginning of the year.
Meanwhile, the department has instructed all municipalities to be on full alert and on standby following the storm.
“The heavy rains could result in an increase of dam and river levels, thus making small streams and rivers very dangerous. People are advised to move away from river banks and avoid crossing full rivers and overflowing bridges,” said Kunene.
He urged parents to warn children not to play next to streams and rivers and for communities to take precautions, especially those who live in low-lying areas.
“A special caution is issued to all learners on their way to and from school not to cross full rivers and bridges. All road users are urged to be extremely cautious on the roads as they are wet and rocks might have fallen in some areas,” he said.
In the case of any possible flooding residents are advised to call the Disaster Management Toll free number 0800 202 507.