When Lindokuhle Kweyama found the lunch she had packed for her 19-month-old daughter untouched‚ she knew her baby was gone.
Her daughter Okuhle – who only came to live with her last month – was washed away by floodwaters from a river that broke its banks in DX5‚ Umlazi‚ on Tuesday morning.
“When I got to the room where my child is usually kept I realised something was not right because they were avoiding eye contact with me‚” she said after visiting what was left of the informal crèche where she had left her child.
“They then called me to another room and then I realised there was a problem … her lunch was still full and hadn’t been eaten‚” she said, tears flowing.
The storm battered the coast of KwaZulu-Natal for more than 12 hours on Tuesday and left a swathe of destruction.
Eleven people died and many more are still missing.
Okuhle’s body was swept down surging rapids after she was pulled from the crèche by a scholar who had tried to save her.
She had been carried to the side of the river while the youth went back for other children‚ but the watermark rose and she was swept downstream.
Kweyama said her daughter had so loved spending time with her that last month she moved to Umlazi.
“My child has just started living here‚ it hasn’t even been a month … My child is the only one who is gone‚” she said
“To be honest‚ I don’t know [if she is alive or not] … If they don’t find her‚ then I will never know what happened.”
Police search and rescue technicians and other emergency service personnel continue to look for those who went missing during the storm.
According to a statement from the KZN government‚ the clean-up operation had begun in earnest while the extent of the damage across the city was assessed.
“Yesterday’s storm was quite unprecedented in its ferocity. As many as eight casualties have been reported and many communities have been rendered homeless‚” the provincial government said in a statement.
“Many people’s lives have been interrupted by displacement‚ power outages and severe damage to both public and private infrastructure. In addition‚ schools and hospitals have experienced serious interruptions to their operations.”