Uncertainty over missing persons as reports continue to come in

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Residents of Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, are optimistic about finding people still missing after the Christmas Eve floods. The exact number of people still missing remains unclear. However, families continue to report missing persons.

Mandlenkosi Zikalala is among those who are still searching for his neighbour Ndolo Sibisi who was washed away by the overflowing Klip River. Zikalala says cooperation among community members has contributed to the bodies of missing people being found.

While acknowledging the community’s role in finding many of the bodies, Zikalala notes that burial arrangements could take some time as some need to be examined by pathologists.

“I am looking for my neighbour -Ndolo – who disappeared on the 25th of this month. They found his car but he wasn’t in the car. One of those who were with Ndolo has been found. But I want to acknowledge the role of the community as many people have been found by members of the community. I think funeral arrangements will not be finalised soon as others have to be checked by pathologists.”


One survivor, a young mother, Rozel Malaton, lost her two children, 9-year-old Brooklyn and 3-year-old Kayle, along with her fiancé, Kenneth Ryan when their rental was engulfed by the floodwaters.

During the onset of the flood, as she and Ryan were wrapping Christmas presents, Malaton felt the ground shaking. In the ensuing chaos, they each grabbed a child before being swept away.

“Along the flood, I was holding onto my son, Brooklyn was still on the mattress, and Kenneth was trying to hold on to me. And then at the tunnel, we went into the pillar there and that’s when I lost hold of them. And luckily, fortunate for me, I held onto a tree, and after a couple of hours – like around half past 3 a search and rescue member found me. Like 3 kilometres downstream.”

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has confirmed that the death toll from the devastating Christmas Eve flash floods in Ladysmith is 22.

The number is expected to climb in the coming days as the search for missing victims continues in the hardest-hit town of Ladysmith.

Search and Rescue teams meanwhile, continue to search for community members who are reportedly still missing.

KwaZulu-Natal police have deployed almost all of their search and rescue and K9 teams, as well as a helicopter, to take part in the search.

They are being assisted by emergency services, the NSRI, and NGOs.

Police spokesperson Robert Netshiunda says the search continues today. “An unconfirmed number of four victims are still outstanding, so we continue with the search operation. The mobile command post will move further downstream on Saturday to facilitate the deployment of rescuers. The police will provide further updates as and when new recoveries are made.”

More heavy rainfall

The South African Weather Service says many parts of KwaZulu-Natal may be in for heavy rainfall throughout the New Year’s long weekend.

A warning had been issued that heavy rainfall may occur from Friday afternoon over the Durban metro, Pietermaritzburg, Estcourt, Mooi River, Newcastle, Kokstad and Port Shepstone.

Forecaster Wisani Maluleke warned that business owners and residents in low-lying areas should be vigilant because the heavy rain may lead to flooding.

“Tomorrow we have 60% showers and thunderstorms in the southern part of the province and 30% in the northern part of the province. Looking into the weekend into Monday we have 60% chances of showers and thunderstorms and they may become severe and we urge everyone to exercise caution on the roads as this may lead to flooding.”