Heavy rains affecting South Africa and Mozambique over the last two weeks have also caused damage and casualties in the small landlocked kingdom of Swaziland, situated between the two countries. Bridges and roads have been damaged by the resulting floods, with at least ten rivers overflowing.
According to police reports, eight people have died in flood-related incidents in various parts of the kingdom.
A 67-year old woman from Kalomshiyo was washed away and drowned by the flooded Mlambothwala River on the evening of Tuesday 4 March 2014. Her body was found 100m downstream the next morning by her son-in-law who was looking for his bags after narrowly escaping being drowned when trying to cross the river later that night.
In the same week, two pupils were reported to have drowned near Sithobela while crossing a river to school. Toward the end of the week, two men from Mgobodzi and Khuphuka drowned in separate incidents, while a 16-year old boy whose body was found on the banks of the Mlumati River was certified dead at Pigg’s Peak Government Hospital.
The body of a two-year old child was retrieved from the Mbabane River by police divers on Saturday 8 March, while the body of a 6-year old boy, retrieved from a flooded pit latrine into which he had slipped and drowned, was taken to Dvokolwako health centre where he was certified dead by doctors.
Owing to flooded rivers and damaged bridges and roads, pupils and teachers were unable to reach schools during the week and a number of schools, including Njojane Primary School, Dlalisile High School, Khuphuka Primary and High Schools and Mbekelweni High School, were closed temporarily. In some cases, head teachers had to turn back pupils who had managed to get to school because more than half of the pupils had been able to reach the school.
Police Deputy PRO Khulani Mamba has advised the public not to take chances crossing flooded rivers but to rather seek refuge in neighbouring homesteads or the nearest police station.
Meanwhile, the principal at St Anthony Primary School, Madzele Ndzinisa, said he found himself with no alternative but to operate the school using ‘remote control’ as he could not risk driving the slippery and damaged road along the Nyamane.
Ntfonjeni Member of Parliament Sompisi Magagula has extended an invitation to the Minister of Public Works and Transport Lindiwe Dlamini to inspect roads in the area with the hope of securing funds for upgrading them.
“Currently we have three bridges which collapsed during the recent heavy rains. I have invited the minister and she should be touring our ruined road network and bridges anytime this week and we are hopeful that government through the ministry of public works and transport will help us this regard”, Magagula said.