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Fatal KZN church building collapse could have been avoided - Cogta

Thirteen people died, mostly teenagers, on Thursday night when a wall at a Pentecostal church fell on top of congregants who gathered at the church for Easter celebrations.

FILE: The Pentecostal church in Ndlangubo in KwaZulu-Natal after a structural collapse on 18 April 2019. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - As multiple investigations are now underway to determine the cause of a fatal church collapse in Empangeni, the KwaZulu-Natal government says the incident could have been avoided if all the necessary precautions had been taken.

Thirteen people died, mostly teenagers, on Thursday night when a wall at a Pentecostal church fell on top of congregants who gathered at the church for Easter celebrations.

Police have opened an inquest docket and spent several hours at the scene to collect evidence that could help the authorities to understand why the wall collapsed.

Soon after the incident, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in KZN said heavy rainfall in parts of the province had contributed to weakening the structure.

But KZN Premier Willies Mchunu’s spokesperson, Thami Ngidi, said it must now be determined whether the structure met all the building requirements.

“These are unnecessary deaths that could have been avoided if we had taken the necessary precautions. We want clarity through an investigation led by the police and Cogta,” Ngidi said.

The bereaved families were expected to be consulted regarding funeral plans.

Meanwhile, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) in Gauteng on Friday sent its condolences to the families of the 13 congregants who died.

The SACC said it was saddened by the incident.

“We have been praying for them, our sincere condolences to the families. As Christians, we pray for one another in bad and good times. Indeed, those people of Empangeni are in our prayers,” said SACC provincial deputy chairperson Father Mlungisi Ntsele.

Additional reporting by Edwin Ntshidi.

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