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Zikalala: We're in the process of declaring KZN a state of disaster

Since the start of the disasters last November, 44 people have died, 193 were injured and 30,000 more displaced.

FILE: ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

DURBAN - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala on Thursday said his government was in the process of declaring a provincial state of disaster following a series of natural incidents amounting to an estimated R1.2 billion.

Since the start of the disasters last November, 44 people have died, 193 were injured and 30,000 more displaced.

Zikalala said declaring a provincial state of disaster was part of efforts to repair homes, schools and other public infrastructure.

“The purpose of declaring the provincial disaster in line with Act 57 is to ensure that as the provincial government we’re able to raise resources and to request the national government to assist us on that.”

At the same time, Zikalala has appointed a mediation team to resolve tensions affecting multi-billion rand mining operations in the Richards Bay area.

A succession battle in the local royal Mbuyazi family, labour disputes and protests by residents demanding jobs have led to two deaths in the area.

Mining giant Rio Tinto, which owns Richards Bay Minerals, has threatened to close down the local mine that employs about 5,000 workers.

Two Richards Bay Minerals security guards have reportedly been shot and wounded as a result of escalating violence in the area.

Rio Tinto has threatened to withhold its R6.5 billion investment pledge to the local economy.

Zikalala said his government would intervene to resolve the impasse.

“We’re starting a mediation process and we will ensure that it is facilitated fully until a resolution is found around the dispute on traditional leadership question of Mbuyazi.”

Community safety MEC Bheki Ntuli said police would maintain a strong presence in the area.

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