Ramaphosa urges Good Friday prayers for KZN flood victims.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
President Cyril Ramaphosa described the floods as "a catastrophe of enormous proportions... not seen before in our country" -- urged Good Friday prayers for survivors.
"Let us pray for our people in KwaZulu-Natal so that they receive the healing that is required... so that they can get on with their lives," he told El-Shaddai Tabernacle church congregants in Ermelo.
Thousands of survivors, left homeless after their houses were destroyed, are being housed in shelters scattered across the city, sleeping on cardboard sheets and mattresses laid on floors.
Ramaphosa said he had visited a family who had lost 10 members, including children.
"That was one of the saddest moments I experienced, even as president," he said during the service broadcast live on some television networks.
He said the pain and suffering that the relatives of victims had experienced "will last for years because some of them just saw their family members just being swept away by the water, as they watched unable to rescue them, reaching out with their hands to hold them, but the power of the water just took them away".
Ramaphosa said the floods and droughts in other parts of the country were an indication of the reality of climate change that the country needed to be prepared for.
Reflecting on the woes faced by KwaZulu-Natal, he cited the 2021 July looting and violent riots which had cost the province and the country billions of rand.
Ramaphosa declared the region a state of disaster to unlock relief funds.
The South African Weather Service issued an Easter weekend warning of thunderstorms and flooding in KwaZulu-Natal.
"According to the warning that we have received, damaging winds are forecast for areas along the coast from midday (Friday) into Saturday evening," said MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sipho Hlomuka, adding disaster teams were on "high alert".
Over 4,000 police officers have been deployed to help with relief efforts and maintain law and order amid reports of sporadic looting.
The country is still struggling to recover from the two-year-old Covid-19 pandemic and deadly riots last year that killed more than 350 people.