13 Tragically Killed in South Africa After Church Wall Collapses

JOHANNESBURG – Thirteen people were killed in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, during an Easter service after a church wall collapsed on them late on Thursday, during a violent storm, following days of heavy rains and strong winds, emergency services said on Friday.

The tragedy took place at Pentecostal Holiness Church in Empangeni. The 13 fatalities reportedly included 12 women and one boy. They were asleep at the time, after having attended the late night service which ended just after 22h00. Sleeping the night at the church for the morning Good Friday service is apparently normal tradition at some churches.

At least 29 people with injuries ranging from serious to minor were taken to hospital for treatment, KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Robert McKenzie said.

“There was a strong storm at the time but we can’t be totally sure why the wall collapsed until the police are done with their investigations,” said McKenzie.

Pictures of the scene on the emergency services’ Twitter page showed bricks and piles of debris strewn across the church floor, with pipes and pillars hanging from higher parts of the building.

Zwakele Mncwango, DA KZN Premier Candidate, said the Democratic Alliance sends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the 13 people killed in the church collapse.

“We are sad to learn that 13 congregants who were gathered for a Passover session on Thursday night, lost their lives.

“They were reportedly gathered in a Pentecostal church building in Dlangubo, in KZN North Coast when the building collapsed.

“We are further urging those who will be travelling to further away places for Good Friday service, to be vigilante on the road ensuring a safe return to their respective homes,” said Zwakele.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Mark Potter/Reuters and Jenni Baxter/SAPeople)

This Sunday Carte Blanche investigates the well-planned terror attack that led to the murder of 50 Muslim worshippers in #NewZealand, and asks was the #ChristchurchShooting preventable? If you’re in SA, you can watch on the DStv Now app.