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.

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