KZN govt to assist Nkwezela storm victims

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bulwer - The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government has set aside R20 million to rebuild houses for the families who were left homeless after a storm hit the Nkwezela area on 6 November.

The houses are expected to be completed before Christmas.

"Cabinet has approved this amount and the building is expected to start next week Monday, because we want to see our people spending Christmas in their new homes. We are busy with the final details," said MEC for Social Development Meshack Radebe during a visit to the area on Thursday.

He said the allocated amount was likely to increase as government wanted to ensure the houses were top-quality and able to withstand future storms.

The department is building the houses in partnership with the provincial Departments of Human Settlements, Local Government and Traditional Affairs and Public Works.

The massive storm earlier this month destroyed 183 homes, 65 people were injured and two died.

Many residents have been accommodated in local churches and halls and the Red Cross has assisted by opening a soup kitchen to feed the community. The department has also been handing out food parcels and clothing to those people who were left with nothing.

During the MEC's visit, storm victims who had lost their IDs and other important documents were able to reapply at the Department of Home Affairs. Those who qualify were also able to apply for social grants.

Meshack Radebe said many did not have the money go to Pietermaritzburg to apply for new documents.

"It up to us as government to help them during their time of need. Lots of people lost their IDs, birth certificates and grant cards and if they don't have the proper documents they won't be able to receive their grants at the end of the month," said Radebe.

He said they were also assisting those learners who were busy writing their matric examination to get their IDs as soon as possible.

"Our department is doing everything. We are also paying for the photos for all the people who are applying for their identity documents. This is our way of giving back to the community and helping them, so that they can get back on their feet," said MEC Radebe.

Gogo Zikhona Sosibo, who lost everything during the storm, told BuaNews she was no longer concerned about how she was going to make ends meet this month, especially with pay day around the corner.

"We are grateful for such assistance during this difficult time in our lives. I know now that I'll get my pension at the end of the month, because I reapplied for my pension card and the new ID," said Gogo Sosibo.

Another resident of Nkwezela, Thulani Zulu, said he had managed to apply for new birth certificates for his two children as well as his ID. He was issued with a temporary ID on the same day.

"I did not pay even a cent, the services were here in our area and the government paid for everything including the ID pictures. Now am just waiting to receive my new ID so I can continue to look for employment," said Mr Zulu.

Mr Radebe said they would continue with service until all the members of the community had received their documents.

This particular area was hit by storms every year during the summer rainy season.

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