WHEN Lindokuhle Kweyama found the lunch she had packed for her 19-month-old daughter untouched, in what was left of the informal crèche where she had left her, she knew her baby was gone.
Her daughter Okuhle – who only came to live with her in the township 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 realized something was not right because they were avoiding eye contact with me,” she said.
“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 as tears lined her cheeks.
The storm battered the coast of KwaZulu-Natal for more than 12 hours on Tuesday and left a swathe of destruction and 11 people dead and many more still missing.
It stalled trains and left motorists stranded on flooded highways. Hundreds of households were without electricity.
Among them is Okuhle, whose body was swept down the 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 that her daughter had so loved spending time with her that last month she moved to Umlazi from where she had been previously living with an aunt.
“My child has just started living here, it hasn’t even been a month… My child is the only one who is gone.”
“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,” she said.
Police Search and Rescue technicians and other emergency service personnel continue to search for those who went missing during the storm.
According to a statement from the KZN Provincial 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 statement said.
“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.”
JEFF WICKS and LWANDILE BHENGU