Three months after the KZN floods, 25 bodies still unidentified

Barbara Mgutshini said 465 bodies had been discovered following the floods and that 10 bodies were badly decomposed. Photo: GCIS

Barbara Mgutshini said 465 bodies had been discovered following the floods and that 10 bodies were badly decomposed. Photo: GCIS
Three months after the floods that ravaged KwaZulu-Natal, 25 bodies have still not been identified, while 10 decomposed remains have been discovered. But the province’s authorities are not sure whether the people died in the floods or not.

This was revealed by Barbara Mgutshini, the deputy director-general in the provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs at a Parliament ad hoc committee meeting on floods held on Friday.

Mgutshini told the meeting that 465 bodies had been discovered following the floods and that 10 bodies were “badly decomposed”.

She said:

It is therefore difficult to determine whether they are really flood-related [deaths] or not, but they were brought to the mortuaries at the time of the floods by the police.

She added that there were 25 unidentified bodies and that their DNA had been collected, but the results were outstanding.

“There is a challenge in matching these 25 with the 84 missing [people] and the task team is going to be dealing with this issue in detail and we should be receiving a report for tabling at the provincial executive in the near future.”

She told the committee that the province had established a task team that would be looking, among other things, at the issue of the unidentified and the 10 bodies.

READ: Sex, drunks and insults: Flood victims plead for dignity

Several national and provincial departments also made presentations before the committee about the aid they had provided to the provinces that experienced floods including the Eastern Cape and the North West.

Mdu Zungu, the head of KwaZulu-Natal department of human settlement, spoke on behalf of the national department of human settlements. He told the committee that some people were still living in shelters and not the temporary homes because the local councillors were interfering with the beneficiary lists.

Zungu added:

This is very common, even now, when you go into the areas and [you will] find that there is the interference of the list. As such, on the ground you find that a house that was supposed to have been documented on the disaster is not there, and then you really must accommodate them.


Other challenges Zungu listed were that the people who had been on the housing waiting lists felt that the flood victims were being given preferential treatment. Business forums were demanding to be paid about 40% before the temporary homes being built. These things were delaying the temporary homes.

Deputy Human Settlement Minister Pam Tshwete, told the meeting that provinces had been given money to build temporary homes for those displaced by the floods and that the delays were not because there was no money.

“We have no problem with funding in the human settlements department. We gave the provinces money to build shelter [for those affected by the floods],” Tshwete said.

According to Mgutshini’s presentation, 6 551 people were displaced by the floods and were being housed at 97 shelters. She said the province was trying to ensure that people were not moved into unhabitable areas. Identifying the right land had also contributed to the slow pace of moving people out of the community halls and the other designated places.

READ: KZN floods: SA ill prepared for this and future calamities

“We do have challenges in urban areas in terms of land. It is quicker to provide housing in the rural areas because there are no constraints in terms of land. But most of our challenges are in the urban areas and that is where we have people in the shelters and we then need to find a quicker intervention,” she said.

Mgutshini said the province had already built 425 temporary houses and the number might increase by 200 to 300 this week.

She added that Human Settlement MEC Jomo Sibiya was in discussions with the housing providers to identify vacant flats where the people in shelters could be moved. Sibiya said they had already identified 39 units in the eThekwini and Msunduzi municipalities and they were hoping to move those affected by the floods.

She said:

The social housing institutions are failing to have those occupied, so instead of living them unoccupied, there is now a process underway through the department of human settlement.

Briefing the media on Tuesday, Premier Sihle Zikalala said eight sites had been secured to build 1 074 temporary houses in the eThekwini municipality and that service providers had been appointed.

Land had also been secured in Cotton Lands to build 356 units, in 138 units in Ntuzuma, 99 in Roodekrans and 80 unites Pemilton.

Last week, City Press reported that the floods victims who have been living in Mountview Hall in Verulam outside Durban were frustrated with the living conditions and wanted to be moved from the hall.