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[Watch] Heroic grandmother shields children from tornado in Tongaat

As of Tuesday night, seven people had been reported dead and thousands of homes were destroyed in the tornado's wake.

With seven Tongaat residents reported dead after Monday’s devastating storm, Magwaveni grandmother Busaphi Ndzabe is counting her blessings.

Feeling helpless and fearful as the tornado-fuelled winds began dismantling her house, the 79-year-old gogo and her daughter Nonhlanhla desperately collected cushions and used their own bodies to shield her grandchildren from the storm.

The family of six miraculously escaped injury despite their home being one of hundreds severely damaged.

“I am old, my boy, but I have never seen something like this. We just covered the children because they were our only priority at the time, and then laid on top of them to ensure they were safe.

“The roof is gone and our belongings damaged, but we are grateful to be alive,” said gogo Busaphi.

eThekwini municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said so far seven deaths in Tongaat have been confirmed, with four other fatalities reported in Nquthu, eShowe and KwaHlabisa. Fifty-five people suffered minor to moderate injuries and are receiving medical treatment in hospitals.

Magwaveni was one of the areas that was hit hard by the tornado on Monday night. Photo: Ethekwini Municipality.

More than a 1000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged and 120 people displaced. Temporary shelters have been established at various locations to provide humanitarian aid.

Tongaat was the worst hit. Other affected areas include Umgababa, eShowe, Utrecht, Osizweni, and KwaHlabisa.

Public infrastructure such as schools, roads, community halls and healthcare facilities were also impacted.

Magwaveni residents pick up what was left of their homes.

One of the schools most affected was Seatides Combined School. Thiry-five of its 40 classrooms were damaged and the science and computer laboratories will have to be rebuilt.

On Tuesday morning a mobile clinic was set up in Magwaveni to offer primary health care to residents, with referrals to hospitals if necessary.

KwaZulu-Natal premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube expressed her condolences to the families of the deceased.

Seatides Combines School was one of the worst affected schools.

She emphasised the urgency of providing immediate humanitarian relief and restoring services to displaced families.

“We aim to support affected families to rebuild their lives. Assessments are continuing so that work to repair damaged infrastructure can begin.

“The assessment reports will give us a clear indication of the extent of the damage and funding that will be required. We also urge municipalities to ensure that all those affected are profiled and receive the necessary support from government,” said Dube-Ncube.

Disaster management teams are conducting assessments and coordinating humanitarian efforts. Non-governmental organisations, including the Red Cross, Al-Imdaad Foundation, Gift of the Givers, and IPSS Search and Rescue, are collaborating with the government to provide hot meals, mattresses, blankets, food parcels, and other assistance.

The tornado also damaged transformers and power lines, leaving many areas without power.

Sisilana said repairs have already begun, with power restored in some areas and full restoration expected by the end of the week.

A house that was destroyed.

“Overhead electricity infrastructure has been severely impacted. The heavy rain also resulted in higher levels of turbidity in raw water abstracted from the uThongathi waterworks, which were shut down for a few hours.
“The waterworks are now operating optimally, and the water supply is being gradually restored,” said Sisilana.

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