The Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Cllr Benson Fihla, has called upon the families of the victims of the Nigerian church lodge disaster not to despair, because the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) and the people of the City are with them. The Executive Mayor spoke during a visit to the homes of the Nigerian church disaster victims on Thursday, November 20, 2014. The Executive Mayor was accompanied by NMBM Mayoral Committee members and leaders from the South African Council of Churches.
The purpose of the visit was to comfort and empathise with the bereaved families. The Municipality used this opportunity to establish how it could assist the families in their preparations for the funerals this Saturday. Five people from Nelson Mandela Bay lost their lives in the church lodge disaster. Three of those victims will be buried on Saturday, while the fourth will be buried on Sunday. The fifth victim, who hailed from Uitenhage, will be buried at a later stage, when arrangements have been finalised. The families visited were from Zwide, Wells Estate, Algoa Park and North End.
The Executive Mayor stated that the pain caused by the tragedy was not only experienced by the families; the entire population of the City was united in grief and mourning. “We want to assure you as we come here that you are not alone. Your pain is our pain and we will continue to keep you in our prayers,” said the Executive Mayor. He also called on the neighbours and communities in whish the victims lived to continue to support to the families in their period of mourning as they try to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones.
In each home, the Executive Mayor, supported by municipal officials, interacted with the families, establishing their immediate needs in preparation of the funerals. Some families highlighted challenges around outstanding paper work from government offices, while others requested the Municipality for traffic services during the funeral processions.
All the families expressed their gratitude to the Executive Mayor, political leadership and the religious leaders for the interest and support. Jongithemba Masiza, a father who lost his eldest daughter in the disaster, said that the visit had lifted a heavy load from his shoulders. “We do not only appreciate the visit; we appreciate the sincerity of the Executive Mayor and his leadership in sharing our pain, praying with us and making sure that we are doing fine,” said Masiza. He added: “The wounds are very deep, but now we can feel that we are beginning to heal. Thank you to the Municipality and other government department that have been with us ever since this tragedy happened”.
Relevant municipal officials were instructed by the Executive Mayor to constantly communicate with the families and assist in ensuring that the preparations for the funerals were proceeding smoothly.
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