UNITY AND RESILIENCE IN UTHONGATHI AFTER TORNADO DEVASTATION

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By Mhlaba Memela

  • The community of uThongathi is working tirelessly to rebuild their lives after a devastating tornado and heavy rainfall struck the area two weeks ago, leaving many families displaced and homes destroyed.
  • Government and social partners have mobilised to provide humanitarian aid, food vouchers, and support to the affected residents, highlighting the spirit of Ubuntu and collective effort in times of crisis.
  • Community leaders and organisations are focusing on safe and planned reconstruction, ensuring long-term resilience and stability for the future.

The resilient community of uThongathi is facing yet another challenge after a devastating tornado and heavy rainfall struck the area two weeks ago, causing widespread destruction and displacement. As families struggle to rebuild their lives, the government and various social partners have stepped in to provide much-needed support and aid.

Today, Minister of Social Development Ms Lindiwe Zulu, accompanied by KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Mrs Nonhlanhla Khoza, visited uThongathi to distribute humanitarian aid and introduce various social partners committed to assisting the victims. Minister Zulu pledged the government’s unwavering support to the people of uThongathi until their dignity is fully restored.

“We need divine intervention now,” Minister Zulu stated, reflecting on the recurring disasters from 2011 to 2024. “While the tornado-ravaged our homes, we must be grateful for the mercy we have received.” She expressed her sadness upon seeing the community’s struggle to rebuild their homes, especially noting children playing in the debris. She emphasised the importance of maintaining cleanliness and protecting children, stating, “It is unacceptable for children to be playing in such unclean and unsafe conditions under our watch as parents.”

Minister Zulu commended the swift response from Cogta, SASSA, DSD, eThekwini Municipality, and social partners. She called for the spirit of Ubuntu, urging residents to share any aid received from donors. She also expressed concern over communities rebuilding homes on unsafe sites without proper planning, stressing, “As we rebuild, we must ensure that our homes are properly planned and have access roads. Building in safe areas is crucial.”

The Department of Social Development and SASSA provided food vouchers to over 20 families who have already begun repairing their homes. Additionally, approximately 230 individuals received R2,000 worth of food vouchers. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has also committed to supporting the victims. Sandile Makhasa, representing the church, reaffirmed their commitment, noting their previous assistance two years ago.

MEC Khoza highlighted the collaborative efforts with the Hollywood Foundation, Gift of the Givers, and Al-im-Dad Foundation. She urged residents to cooperate with social workers during the profiling process to ensure fair distribution of aid. “We have encountered instances of double-dipping, where families send children to register multiple times. This hinders our efforts. Let’s work together to ensure everyone receives the help they need,” she stated.

Khoza also advised that those who have received food vouchers should not return to temporary shelters but should use the vouchers to purchase food and prepare meals in their repaired homes. Since the disaster, SASSA has provided three hot meals a day for 2,001 victims, 1,701 blankets, and 137 school uniforms for needy learners. About 3,400 families affected by the disaster are receiving assistance from the government, with over 344 families’ applications for food vouchers being processed.

 

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