KZN farmers miss brunt of storms

While residents of communal land in parts of KwaZulu-Natal are reportedly reeling from the effects of what have been described as ‘violent storms’ on Monday, 17 March, initial reports indicated that commercial farmers seemed to have been missed by the worst of it.

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The KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) reported that the Ukhahlamba area in the KZN Midlands and the Uphongolo area in northern KZN were most severely hit. KZN COGTA spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said that scores of people in these areas had been left homeless. The Emmaus Hospital in Ukhahlamba was severely damaged with patients having to be transferred to the Estcourt and Ladysmith hospitals. One person was reportedly killed by lightning in Uphongolo, and a total of 18 storm-related injuries had so far been reported.

Reports from commercial farmers in these two areas showed that while they had experienced intense rainfall during the Monday afternoon storms, no reports of major damage to crops or infrastructure had come in. Schalk Krieg, cane supply manager at Pongola Sugar Mill, said that about 22mm of rain had fallen near the mill in a short space of time.

Bergville farmer, Andrew Fyvie, said that his area had received about 50mm to 60mm of rain during the storms. Mabaso said that KZN COGTA MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube, together with Premier Senzo Mchunu and other provincial MECs, were currently assessing the full extent of the storm damage.

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