Ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on Thursday, people of Mpolweni, New Hanover in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, are calling on the President to declare the area a disaster area.

This is after a tornado struck the area in November last year, leaving hundreds of people homeless.

More than 200 houses were damaged by the tornado at Mpolweni. Two people lost their lives when their houses collapsed on them. Roofs were blown away and some houses were completely flattened.

Three months after tornado struck there are still corrugated iron roof sheets and rubble in some yards.

Some households are still living in tents that were erected as temporary shelter by government and Non-Governmental Organisations.

Some families received temporary two-roomed houses while others received corrugated iron to re-roof their houses.

66-year-old Mshosho Mkhize says the collapse of his house has divided his family. While he stayed behind in Mpolweni, his wife and children were forced to go and live at the farm where she works.

Mkhize’s house was completely flattened. His yard is still strewn with the rubble of his house that was flattened.

The video below shows the devastation left by the tornado in another area in KwaZulu-Natal: 

The government has provided a tent as a temporary shelter and later built a temporary two-roomed house of corrugated iron. However, Mkhize is living with neighbours because he says the corrugated iron house is too hot.

His plea to President Cyril Ramaphosa is for the government to build them houses so that his children can come back home.

“I’m calling on the government to build me a house at least a four-roomed house. I can’t live with my family. My children cannot attend school. It’s too hot in this house, we also don’t have toilets and electricity, we appreciate these temporary houses but they are too small. When my house collapsed everything that was inside was damaged.”

Other victims of the tornado, Nokubonga Mkhize and Lindiwe Magwaza, are calling on the President not to forget them when he delivers his State of the Nation Address.

They say relief was not equally distributed. Some of the victims did not receive corrugated iron. These residents say they are afraid of another storm hitting.

“We are calling on the president to provide us with houses so that we can live together as a family. We don’t have money to rebuild our house as we are not working,” says of the residents.

Days after the tornado hit different parts of the province, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Co-Operative Governance applied to the national government for the area to be declared a national disaster area.

One of the victims whose roof was blown away, Sihle Goge, says the president should make the declaration. “The damage was too severe, our area was damaged totally, I think it will be advisable for our government just to declare this place as a disaster area because of the damage, it was too bad.”

While environmentalists are warning of an increase in severe storms due to climate change, storm victims of Mpolweni are struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives. They had built their homes themselves from the money they saved. They say they do not have money to rebuild their homes.