Charities pledge aid to tornado-ravaged towns

Relief and charity organisations have initiated a wide-scale aid relief effort after tornadoes wreaked havoc in two provinces.

On Tuesday, local aid organisation Gift of the Givers pledged R2-million to the residents of Duduza, on the East Rand, Gauteng.

Photo gallery: Twister terror

It promised to erect “United Nation standard tents” and wendy houses. It would also distribute food, bottled water, new clothing, toys, hygiene packs and blankets.

The South African Red Cross distributed blankets to people affected by the tornado in Ficksburg, Free State. It also fed over 600 Duduza residents at a local multi-purpose centre on Tuesday morning.

Eight-year-old Xolani Mkhatshwa died, 166 people were injured and 2 790 were left homeless after the tornado descended on the Duduza township, near Nigel on Sunday night. Over 550 homes were destroyed.

Gift of the Givers promised to cover Mkhatshwa’s funeral expenses.

In Ficksburg, on the same night, nine-year-old Thabane Mkhekhe died, 42 people were injured and over 1 000 houses were destroyed.

On Tuesday, Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane thanked South Africans for coming to the help of the people in Duduza.

“The compassion and the spirit of ubuntu that has been displayed by South Africans of all hues to the many families who are affected by the devastating impact of the tornado must be lauded,” she said.

Disaster area
“To those who have donated foodstuffs, blankets and their time, we thank you. It is at times such as these that one is truly humbled to lead a province of people with such empathy.”

On Monday, Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele declared Duduza a disaster area.

“Nature has disrupted the lives of our people. We are in the process of profiling each household, and organising a team to coordinate the relief efforts.”

Gungubele said the extent of the damage still had to be assessed.

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said her department would send satellite-enabled vehicles to both towns to assist residents who had lost documentation.

“As stated in our previous commitments, the destruction of such documents as IDs, birth, marriage and death certificates due to floods, fire, and tornadoes will be replaced free of charge,” Zuma said.

The Gauteng ANC said the tornado spelled “unprecedented hardship” for the people in Duduza.

“When disasters occur they hit the poorest and the most vulnerable the hardest. The state of our planet makes [sure that] everyone has to work hard at preventing, reducing, and mitigating disaster risk,” spokesperson Dumisa Ntuli said. — Sapa

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