A road washed away by cyclone Idai. Picture: EUNICE SIBANDA
A road washed away by cyclone Idai. Picture: EUNICE SIBANDA

Harare - Billionaire businessperson Patrice Motsepe and the SA government donated a combined R75m to victims of cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe, on Thursday.

International relations and co-operation minister Lindiwe Sisulu led the team that visited Mozambique and Zimbabwe to assess the damage caused by the devastating cyclone that hit Beira on March 15. It has left a trail of destruction that has also affected Malawi.

So far the cyclone has claimed close to 800 lives in the three countries, while hundreds of others are missing.

Thousands of the cyclone’s survivors are in need of urgent assistance in terms of food, shelter, health and other basic needs.

Cases of cholera have been confirmed in Mozambique while the Red Cross has warned of a “ticking bomb of diseases” and called for the deployment of medicines and health professionals to avert a full-blown health disaster.

Sisulu and Motsepe, who was accompanied by his wife Precious Moloi-Motsepe, handed over bank cheques to Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister, Sibusiso Moyo, on Thursday night.

Speaking after the donations, Sisulu said they were in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plea to South Africans to respond to the disaster. 

“We have decided, as the department of international relations, to make a financial donation apart from other donations that are coming your way. This is what we have brought to you at short notice to assist you to provide the urgent relief to the affected,” she said.

Zimbabwe’s defence and war veterans minister Oppah Muchinguri commended the donations and said cyclone Idai was a wake-up call in the fight against climate change.

In Zimbabwe alone, cyclone Idai has claimed close to 200 lives while more than 350 bodies are reported to be buried.

SA has also assisted with cadaver dogs that were deployed to the hardest-hit area of Chimanimani earlier this week to hunt for dead bodies.