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SAHRC Calls for a Declaration of Local State of Disaster following Tornado in Tongaat

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SAHRC Calls for a Declaration of Local State of Disaster following Tornado in Tongaat

SAHRC Calls for a Declaration of Local State of Disaster following Tornado in Tongaat

11th June 2024

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/ MEDIA STATEMENT / The content on this page is not written by Polity.org.za, but is supplied by third parties. This content does not constitute news reporting by Polity.org.za.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC / the Commission) joins the rest of the country in sharing our dismay at the scale and impact of the Tornado that occurred in Tongaat and surrounding areas on Monday, 3 June 2024.

Following our initial evaluation, the SAHRC believes that the occurrence of the Tornado can be classified as a disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (DMA). According to section 1 of the DMA, a disaster refers to a progressive or sudden, widespread or localized, natural or human-caused occurrence which causes or threatens to cause:

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(a)      death, injury or disease; 

(b)      damage to property, infrastructure or the environment; or 

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(c)      disruption of the life of a community; and importantly,

(d)      is of a magnitude that exceeds the ability of those affected to cope with its effects using only their own resources.

It is reported that to date, there have been approximately 10 fatalities and countless hospitalizations and injuries. Furthermore, the commission’s preliminary inspections reveal that approximately 1500 persons have been displaced. Twenty schools in the area have reportedly been damaged. There is widescale destruction to public infrastructure, including power and cell phone towers, and bridges. The damage and demolition to the environment is extensive. 

In addition, hundreds have lost their personal belongings, including homes, vehicles, and important documents such as identity documents and education materials. Livestock has also reportedly been affected.

The financial cost of the disaster is still undetermined. However, its magnitude far exceeds the ability of the affected persons and families to recover using only their own resources.

The Commission is concerned about reports of criminal activities in the affected areas, as power has not yet been restored in many parts, and many personal belongings are not secured.

Section 49 of the DMA states that in the event of a disastrous occurrence, the local Disaster Management Centre of the affected municipality must immediately conduct an assessment. It is advised that the initial assessment should be conducted within 72 hours following the occurrence of an incident, and its results must be submitted to the relevant Provincial, and National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC).

In terms of section 23 of the DMA, the outcomes of the initial on-site assessment indicate whether the occurrence can be classified as disastrous in nature or not, and whether it should be declared as a Disaster by the NDMC.

The SAHRC has written to the Head of the eThekwini Disaster Management Centre, and the Head of the NDMC to relay its initial observations, and to request a copy of the initial on-site assessment report on the disaster. The Commission has also appealed, based on its own initial assessment, for the declaration of a Local State of Disaster in the eThekwini Metropolitan area in line with “Processes for the Classification and Declaration of a State of Disaster” as outlined in the National Disaster Management Framework (NDMF), 2005.

The Commission will continue to monitor the observance of human rights during this difficult period and urges all South Africans to support the affected communities, either by sending relief aid through appropriate channels or offering their thoughts and prayers.  

The SAHRC further commends the actions of civil society in Tongaat and surrounding areas for their compassionate, humanist, organized and well-coordinated efforts to assist the affected communities. 

Once again, we extend heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones.

 

Issued by South African Human Rights Commission

 

 

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