President Cyril Ramaphosa has conveyed his condolences to the families and congregants of the 13 people who died Thursday night after a section of a church building collapsed on them at Empangeni on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.
Sixteen people were hospitalised.
Ramaphosa was speaking on the sidelines of the Methodist Church Easter Service at KwaNzimakwe near Port Edward on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast.
Ramaphosa has also urged motorists to be extra cautious on the roads.
“We are saddened by a number of people who have been dying during this period, especially the 13 people who died when a church building collapsed in Esikhawini. This is sadness and we want to pass our condolences to the families of those who have departed. We believe there are more people who are also injured and we wish them a speedy recovery. But there are quite a number of other people who have died on our roads and we want to pass our condolences. We also want to urge all South Africans that as they are travelling they should drive carefully and they should always make sure that they rest during the period when they are driving. We want this Easter period to be an Easter period where we reduce the number of deaths on our roads.”
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More details are emerging from the Pentecostal Church in Empangeni on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast where more bodies are suspected to be trapped under rubble. Disaster management teams are working tirelessly to retrieve the bodies that are suspected to be trapped. The congregants were among the hundreds of church members who had gathered at the church for a Passover service.
Minister of Labour Mildred Olifant, who is also a member of the church, is also present at the church.
The families of the 13 people who perished at the Pentecostal Holiness Church are devastated. All the deceased are residents of the Zululand District Municipality in the northern part of the province.
Municipal mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi says they have proposed that during large church gatherings emergency personnel should be on standby.