When disaster struck in KZN

Devastation rained down on KwaZulu-Natal, resulting in South Africa's deadliest floods on record. News24's journalists went into the heart of the disaster-stricken province to speak to the people who have lost everything, and those who are rescuing and rebuilding after the storm.

Relentless downpours hit KwaZulu-Natal in April 2022, resulting in devastating flooding that left hundreds dead and thousands without homes.

10 000 troops were deployed to assist, a state of disaster was declared, and critical infrastructure suffered damage that ran into the billions.

There was also a palpable anxiety in the air that funds meant for the rescue and rebuilding of the province would be washed away into the pockets of the governing party and their friends.

News24 was on the ground as the tragedy unfolded to bring our readers stories of loss, heartache and hope from the people of KwaZulu-Natal.

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PODCAST | The Story: 'You see bodies on the side of the road' - journalists describe flooding horror

PODCAST | The Story: Ramaphosa promises KZN flood relief funds won't be stolen, but who believes him?

What you need to know right now:

  • The latest death toll is 435.
  • 57 of those deaths are pupils.
  • 13 556 homes have been affected, with 8 329 houses partially damaged and 3 937 completely destroyed.
  • R17 billion is the estimated cost of repairing the damage.
  • 320 000 school children are impacted and R400m is needed to fix schools.
  • 84 health facilities damaged, R184m needed for repairs
  • Follow our live updates for the latest news as it happens.

KwaNdengezi father carries son's body for 10km, joins sea of families desperate for help

By Juniour Khumalo and Kayleen Morgan

"The body will end up decomposing and smelling."

These were the sombre words of Sizwe Mbotho, a diminutively framed middle-aged man, who stood next to the body of his six-year-old son, Khethokuhle, covered in a white sheet, waiting desperately for hours for emergency services to assist. 

He had walked 10 kilometres carrying his son after the little boy lost his life when the Mbotho family home in the Dassenhoek Area, KwaNdengezi, collapsed due to a landslide amid catastrophic flooding that wreaked havoc in KwaZulu-Natal. 

News24 found Mbotho desperately trying to flag down police cars and the very few emergency services vehicles that passed by the road.

All the responses were the same: "We are rushing to other areas where dozens of people have lost their lives there." 

Photo by Kayleen Morgan, News24

'I was very stressed when I saw bodies': Bones and skulls from flooded cemetery wash into Durban suburb

By Kaveel Singh

Trauma and fear have washed over the Lindelani community in Ntuzuma, Durban after human remains from a nearby cemetery overflowed onto the roadway following flash floods and mudslides.

The remains, which overflowed on Tuesday during the height of the KwaZulu-Natal floods, left nearby residents adjacent to the cemetery traumatised.

Photo by Jabulani Langa, Daily Sun

As KZN picks up the pieces, we look at recent floods that battered the province

By Lisalee Solomons

Before this week, the most devastating flood to have occurred in KwaZulu-Natal took place in September 1987, when the Mgeni and Mvoti rivers flooded. The death toll stood at around 400, with 50 000 displaced.

Photo by Gallo Images

WATCH | Man looks on helplessly as house he spent years building is swept away

By Lwandile Bhengu

As the floods overwhelmed KwaZulu-Natal on Monday, Phumlani Ntetha, 30, watched helplessly as the Umlazi River destroyed the home he had spent years building.

"I am devastated, scared and stressed because I don't have a place to stay. I lost everything I worked for. I worked so hard and then, in just a minute, my house was down," he told News24. 

Ntetha and his family were sleeping on Monday evening when they were woken by a neighbour banging on the door. 

Photo by Gallo Images

How a husband braved KZN's horror floods to rush his pregnant wife to hospital to give birth

By Iavan Pijoos

Rebecca Woodstock's water broke around 18:00 last Monday. In a panic, her husband, Sean, gathered the pre-packed hospital luggage and loaded it into the car. 

What followed was a hair-raising trip to the hospital as flood waters gushed down a hill in Umdloti, KwaZulu-Natal, when heavy rains submerged parts of the province.

'It's physically exhausting and mentally draining’: The emotional toll of searching for bodies after KwaZulu-Natal floods

By Nicole McCain

"All the rescues have been done. That's the part that we love. Now the emotional part sets in: it's time to recover bodies."

Paramedic Leon Fourie was just one of many rescue crew members working to recover the bodies of people trapped by landslides or washed away in raging rivers in KwaZulu-Natal this week.

Authorities said that more than 300 people had died in devastating flooding in the province, but with recovery efforts still underway, this number could climb even higher.

Rescue worker Travis Trower had helped carry the body of a woman hundreds of meters up a steep bank on Wednesday when he heard a sound that would bring a lump to his throat even a day later. Instead of wailing with grief, the woman's family broke out into song, the notes of "How Great Thy Art" echoing down the embankment.

Photo by Kayleen Morgan, News24

WATCH | No food, no shelter, no hope - desperate Durban community after flooding

By Kaveel Singh

A Durban community ravaged by the KwaZulu-Natal floods is irate that despite consistent flooding in recent years, little help has been offered to address infrastructural deficiencies.

News24 visited the site where residents were struggling from a lack of food, no clothing, and appalling sanitation conditions - many bemoaned how floods, including those in 2017 and 2019, had left the community in a cycle of poverty.

Photo by Gallo Images



A terminal of the Port of Durban, 14 April 2022. (Planet Labs/AFP)

A flooded golf course in Durban, 14 April 2022. (Planet Labs/AFP)

A rail yard in Durban, 14 April 2022. (Planet Labs/AFP)

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