President Cyril Ramaphosa has instructed that the SA flag fly at half-mast at every station in the country from May 1 to 7 as a mark of respect and to observe seven days of mourning for those who lost their lives in floods that ravaged the country over the past week.

Durban and Port St Johns were rocked by heavy rains and flooding last week and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu announced on Monday that the estimated damage was R1.1bn so far.

Additionally, the eThekwini damage alone was estimated to be more than R685m.

Ramaphosa visited affected areas and communities in KZN last week, conveying his condolences to those who lost loved ones and assuring those who were displaced that the government would make relief funds available.

“The president has expressed the profound appreciation of the government and people of South Africa for the messages of support received from governments around the world in relation to the recent floods,” spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement.

Addressing the media on Monday, Mchunu said the death toll for the floods had reached 70 in the metro after the body of a young man was recovered in eTshelimnyama near Mariannhill.

Day of prayer and mourning 

A total of 1 469 people were displaced and they had to be housed temporarily in community halls or by their neighbours or relatives. More than 50 people were injured and had to be treated in hospital.

A provincial day of prayer and mourning to show solidarity with the bereaved families and to pray for people who died is expected to be held at the Curries Fountain Sports Field in Durban on Thursday. 

Mchunu said the provincial executive had resolved to classify the province a disaster area “because the province alone cannot cope with these incidents”.

“The provincial executive has also resolved that relevant stakeholders must ensure infrastructure that will be utilised for elections is restored to normalcy without further delays,” he added.

Mchunu also revealed that a task team had been appointed to co-ordinate all support, which included burials. 

The eThekwini metro has also set up a dedicated support desk at the eThekwini Disaster Management Centre for all the bereaved families.

The support desk has a hotline that can be reached at 031 367 0094.

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