Mother dies saving child
.. as a wall collapses on her at a hospital
SIZAKELE Chala was unable to save her own life when a wall collapsed as the heavy rains pelted Durban on Tuesday. However, she ensured she saved her newborn baby by throwing her to a stranger as the wall collapsed on her.
This was revealed yesterday during a visit by a delegation conducting assessments at sites hit hard by the storm. Some of these included uMlazi Comprehensive Technical High School, and King Edward VIII and Prince Mshiyeni Memorial hospitals.
The storm claimed at least eight lives. One of those who died was Chala, who lost her life at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, where she had gone for a check-up on her 1-week-old baby. Chala’s aunt, Ntombikayise Dube, said her niece had left early that morning with her baby Silondile. As the storm intensified, Chala sought shelter near a wall towards the hospital entrance.
Dube said the 29-year-old realised the wall was collapsing and threw Silondile to a stranger to save her life.
Chala was buried under the rubble. “People rushed to help her and free her from the rubble but she had already died,” said Dube.
Chala’s sister, Zandile, said the infant was taken to the X-ray department and was found to be healthy. She described her sister as someone who was quiet and kept to herself.
Chala leaves Silondile and a 9-year-old boy.
The delegation of provincial government and municipal officials paid their respects to the family as part of its visits to affected facilities in the city.
The delegation was led by acting Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Weziwe Thusi, who was accompanied by Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, Human Settlements and Public Works MEC Ravi Pillay and eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede.
Earlier, at King Edward VIII hospital, Dhlomo urged patients to be calm after the damage inflicted in the hospital’s parking lot and six operating theatres. This has compelled the hospital to stop performing major surgery on patients. The MEC said they were doing their best to ensure the hospital was back at full capacity soon.
Dhlomo said the hospital’s old infrastructure presented a challenge and asked staff to be patient.
He promised a “new King Edward in two or three years”. They had earmarked the new hospital to be in the Cato Manor area. The current hospital would not become obsolete, but would become a smaller branch of the new facility. He also promised a new medical school, which he said was still to be finalised with the Higher Education Department.
During the tour, it was evident that the hospital’s floors were still wet, with staff struggling to perform their duties in the conditions.
Patients also feared for their lives. Sizwe Zikhali, 34, said: “I thought the wall was going to collapse during the storm. The floor was covered with water. Nurses took me to a safe spot when they saw things were getting worse. I thought I was going to die.” The uMgababa resident said it was only yesterday morning that he finally believed the worst was over.
Thusi said the cost to repair the damage was expected to run into millions of rand.
She urged insurance companies to expedite claims made by people to make their lives easier.
Thusi said South African Breweries donated R200 000 to helping fix Prince Mshiyeni and donated 100 blankets.
She also thanked various non-governmental organisations that had come forward to help.
One of the organisations that had been working around the clock to help people was the Al-Imdaad Foundation.
Abed Karim, the organisation’s national co-ordinator of disaster response, said many people needed accommodation. He sad they had provided 200 mattresses and 100 blankets so far, but would be helping more people. Karim said the disaster has been “vast and devastating”.
Ntombikayise Dube, left, and Zandile Chala, relatives of Sizakele Chala who died saving her baby.