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MBABANE – While most people were lining up their fireworks, preparing to welcome the New Year, Maphalaleni residents were without a roof over their heads.

This comes after a raging hailstorm blew away roofs of about 40 homesteads, including a school in that area, on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. The year started on a sad note for Maphalaleni Community Primary School as three classes and two teachers’ houses, one of which houses the head teacher Richard Nkambule were destructed by the storm. In an interview, Nkambule narrated that books which were kept in the affected classes were damaged by the storm. He stated that the situation could have been much worse had it not been for residents who came to their rescue. Nkambule narrated that resident who live close to the school rushed there after seeing that the storm would cause a lot of damage. He said they moved furniture and other items from the affected classes to those that were not hit by the storm. He related that they were yet to inform the regional education officer (REO) about the incident.

Nkambule could not state how much the school would need to fix the damages but said they would do an assessment today. He shared that teachers who stayed at the school houses were recalled from home to assess damage to their houses. He stated that as much as his was damaged, another teacher’s house was even more affected. “We are hoping to fix the damage before schools open,” Nkambule said. Maphalaleni Member of Parliament Mabulala Maseko confirmed that about 40 homes, including the school, were affected by the storm. Maseko said the storm hit their constituency at around 2pm in about four different intervals. He shared that an elderly woman was hit by a brick as her newly completed house suffered the same fate as those of her neighbours. He said the elderly woman was treated and was not in a critical state.

By the time of compiling this report, some people were still searching for their corrugated iron sheets which were blown away by the storm. Maseko narrated that not only were homes affected but livestock as well. He said birds, chickens, and kids (baby goats) died due to the storm. He said fields were also not spared as maize plants were coiled and broken while smaller ones were crushed to the ground. The Mp added that farmers would be dealt a huge blow as they would have to replant their fields. “The state of the road is also very bad and our main river is overflowing,” Maseko narrated. The MP said crossing the river had become a problem as the bridge was affected by the storm. He said they would today go to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to ask for assistance as the state of the road was problematic to residents. The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) Public Relations Officer, Setsabile Sibisi, could not give figures of how many people were affected as their officers were still doing assessments at the time of compiling this report. Sibisi, however, stated that about 10 affected households were visited yesterday and added that the number was expected to increase.

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