UPDATE: Storm destroys Putfontein education centre

Putfontein SAPS social worker Winnie Mona distributes food to learners at the Umnyezane Primary School. She is with one of the learners.

The centre is home to vulnerable children and it provides academic, social and emotional support to children aged between three months to 18 years.

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It caters for 250 children.

The weather destroyed three classrooms and the hall at the Putfontein centre.

Two teachers were at the centre with 21 children when the storm hit.

The educators, Busisiwe Makhudu and Marriane Mzaza, said they used their bodies to protect the children‚ including a one-year-old baby.

Makhudu said at about 4pm the wind picked up so much they could not keep the door shut.

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“We tried to close the door with chairs but it kept swinging,” said Makhudu.

Mzaza said after a few minutes the building was destroyed and all they could think about was whether the children were unharmed.

The teachers and children were not injured.

Northfield Methodist Church head of communication Lisa Johnstone said Norah’s centre has strong links to the Northfield Methodist Church.

“We appeal to our community to please assist with donations of mobile toilets, food, stationery, clothing and water,” she said.

These can be delivered to the Northfield Methodist Church on the corner of Aerodrome Drive and Webb Street.

School damaged

In the same area, Umnyezane Primary School was also damaged.

The school principal, Velly Katane, said there was no schooling yesterday (October 11) as the teachers’ textbooks were destroyed by the rain.

Four classrooms and the staff room’s roof was blown off.

The school accommodates 938 children from Grade R to Grade Seven.

Katane said they would appreciate tents to cover the room while they figure out how to rebuild it.

Families affected

The Chauke family, who lost their home during the storm, had to squeeze themselves into a small shack outside their house in the Mogoba informal settlement in Putfontein.

The family of seven said they don’t know how they are going to rebuild their home as none of them are employed.

Situation being assessed

Disaster and Emergency Management Services (DEMS) was assessing the area.

Gift of the Givers pledged food parcels, blankets and the Putfontein SAPS and the Victim Empowerment Centre (VEC) prepared food for the affected families and children at Umnyezane Primary School.

The Red Ants helped reconstruct about 36 shacks.

Ekurhuleni disaster and emergency management district manager media liaison William Ntladi said the assessments are still on-going and there is not a final figure on how many houses were damaged.

“At least 60 houses with asbestos sheeting had their roofs blown off,” said Ntladi.

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  AUTHOR
Penelope Masilela

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