Wall collapse kills mom, son

A Slangspruit mother and her seven-year-old son were killed on Friday when a wall collapsed onto their bedroom, crushing them.

They had been sleeping when the incident happened.

The woman, who was identified as Nokubonga Mazibuko, and her son Simelokuhle, were found lying on their bed with pieces of the rubble around them after the boundary wall collapsed.

The two had been renting a single unit in the six-bedroom house structure built with rocks and mud.

When Weekend Witness arrived at the scene, neighbours watched in horror and others wept bitterly as the bodies were pulled out of the rubble and loaded into a mortuary van.

A relative, who arrived at the scene moments before the bodies were taken out, was inconsolable after she was informed by police officers that the two had died.

Thembinkosi Nzimande, who lives in the same house, said the incident happened at around 2 am.

“I heard a loud sound and saw the wall tumbling down. I ran out of the house to try and get help,” Nzimande said.

He said after the wall collapsed, he walked to the landlord’s house a few metres away to tell him what had happened.

“We rushed back, and I didn’t expect to find the bodies buried under the rubble. I have never seen anything like it in my life,” said Nzimande.

Mazibuko, originally from Nkandla in northern KwaZulu-Natal, worked as a hairdresser at a salon on Church Street.

Simelokuhle had been doing Grade 1 at Slangspruit Primary School.

Thamsanqa Msomi, the principal of Slangspruit Primary School, extended his condolences to Simelokuhle’s family. He said they were heartbroken by the horrific accident.

Angry neighbours who gathered at the scene said that the house had been unstable following heavy rains last weekend.

They said they felt abandoned by the municipality and had for years been promised proper housing.

“Its not the first time something like this has happened. In 2015, a woman was killed after a house collapsed in this area.

“The ward councillor came here and made promises but nothing has happened. How many people must die before we get proper houses?” asked an emotional Nelisiwe Khanyile.

The residents said they were afraid that their houses would also collapse and that they would be killed. About 95% of the mud homes in the area are in a dilapidated state.

Another neighbour, Ntombi Ngubane, described Mazibuko as a hard-working, kind, giving and strong-willed person.

“When I heard they had died, I couldn’t handle it. Both their lives were cut very short. It’s heartbreaking,” said Ngubane.

Get your home inspected

After torrential rains triggered mudslides that crushed homes in the province, Shane Naidoo, Msunduzi chief building inspector, said it was essential for homeowners to get their properties inspected by professionals who could provide a comprehensive list of all the home’s underlying flaws.

“Damp walls are often chalky, mouldy, or show bubbling or flaking paint close to the source of the problem — usually within one metre of the floor or up at ceiling level,” he said.

Naidoo said most low-cost houses collapsed because they were not built by professionals.

“Due processes are not followed and often, the material used does not meet the right requirements,” he said.