Wind sounded like grinding machinery, say survivors

What remains of the homes that were left damaged on Saturday in Butterworth.
DAMAGED HOMES: What remains of the homes that were left damaged on Saturday in Butterworth.

A 20-minute blast of wind ripped off roofs and flattened 50 homes, injuring people and leaving a number of  residents of three villages homeless.

The wind came soon after dawn, at 6am on Saturday, and destroyed homes and possessions in the villages outside Butterworth.

Scores of families left destitute by the gale were trying to rebuild shelters on Monday while dealing with their trauma.

Some families had to borrow school uniforms for their children.

Villagers told of how a dark cloud had come from the east.

They said it reminded them of the grinding, roaring noise made by graders at road construction sites.

And yet, just moments before the maelstrom, the weather was “normal and cool”, they said.

Asakhe Duzeni, 32, of Mthintsilana village, said she had to remove rubble to get her twins aged 13, and her five-year-old, to safety.

“The whole room fell on top of us,” Duzeni said.

“I had to quickly remove my children from underneath the blocks.”

She said she had bruises on her legs and that her children were lucky to escape with minor scratches.

Her husband had injuries to his head and waist.

Ambulances were called, and injured villagers were rushed to local hospital and later released.

Duzeni said all their belongings, including the children’s birth certificates, were damaged.

“We have nothing and we have no way of rebuilding as we are unemployed.

“I don’t even know how we survived, but we thank God that we did.”

She said she had to borrow uniform for her children to be able to attend school on Monday.

“We don't know how we will survive. We really need government intervention.

Andile Duzeni said had been sleeping when the strong wind blew his roof off and it landed outside the yard.

“I am still shocked beyond measure but I am thankful everyone survived,” he said.

Philani Tase, of Ncityane village, said zinc sheets from his eight-roomed home were blown off and landed several metres away.

“We managed to mend the roof, but people are frustrated.

“It was the first time this happened in our area.

“We thought we would die,” he said.

Efforts to get comment from the local and district municipalities were fruitless.

Mnquma mayor Sithembiso Ncetezo  said he had visited Bhoyileni, Ncerhana and Mthintsilana villages.

He said they were grateful no-one had died, though there were injuries.

“In Mthintsilana alone, I saw roughly 15 affected homesteads and I believe there are more,'' Ncetezo  said.

Officials from both Mnquma and the Amathole district municipality (ADM) were deployed to collect data and compile a report on the impact of the gale, he added.

“We have to speak to the provincial government department and ADM and see how, together, we can assist.''

ADM spokesperson Nonceba Madikizela-Vuso did not respond to a media inquiry.

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