Margate businesses ruined by floods

Several businesses were ruined when heavy rains and strong winds battered parts of the South Coast. | SHELLEY KJONSTAD

Several businesses were ruined when heavy rains and strong winds battered parts of the South Coast. | SHELLEY KJONSTAD

Published Apr 21, 2024


Durban — Many businesses in Margate are in ruins after the devastating floods that killed five people last Sunday.

Marko Ban, who owns a mechanic shop, PMG Mechanic, said that the storm had left his business in ruins and he did not know if he would be able to bounce back, or when.

“This rain has destroyed my life. Three years ago I took all my life’s savings and provident fund and put it into the business. It has not been easy from the get-go.

“I have been scammed, used and abused by assistants who used to work for me but stole tools and ran away and the business was broken into several times.

“About a year and a half in my bakkie broke down causing me to lose 90% of my income and I had to walk to clients’ houses to fix their cars. Three weeks ago a blessing came and I received a vehicle that I could do an engine conversion on and fix my bakkie. I would have been able to complete that project this week, but the storm hit,” he said.

Ban said that not only did he lose the bakkie that he used for work, but also his home because he lived in his shop.

“I was living inside my workshop until it caved in on Sunday and I lost all my tools and personal possessions. I am now homeless and living in my friends’ house.

“If I manage to find any of my electrical tools in the ruins, they would be useless and that means that I have lost my means of income.

“One of my clients’ cars was also destroyed. Thankfully two of them had insurance but the rest of them are like me and they had no insurance,” he said.

Ban said that he was disappointed that the storm had not been declared a natural disaster.

“I have not received any assistance from the Ugu municipality. I think that due to the sheer amount of pressure, the storm had to destroy our property to pieces, that would have been enough for the government to declare it a natural disaster.

“Mine and other businesses around me exist in a tourism hub and this is a hard hit for us and the economy to absorb.

“The community and close friends have assisted, but we will not receive any funding because it (a natural disaster) was not declared,” he said.

Ivor Shead, owner of One-Stop Mobile mechanic, said that his business had been just scraping by since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The business was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and I had not recovered from that when the rain storm hit us. I lost nine vehicles and a trailer. I have two employees who feed large families of seven each and I am also the breadwinner in my household,” he said.

Richard Lantz who owns Reggie’s Auto Body, said that he had been in the water that was 6m deep looking for all the tools that washed away. He said they had been worth about R350 000.

“He said that his customers’ cars were destroyed in the process but they had been understanding.

“I was in the river that night looking for what I could save and I thank God that I made it out alive. I am devastated that I could not save anything,” he said.

According to Stephen Herbst, spokesperson of a civic organisation called Tidy Towns Shelly to Margate, which advocates for a safe and clean environment, community members had been trying to restore order, working with various residents and organisations, including the police and the municipality.

“I am a part of a magnificent community. The story is about rebuilding and the community stood tall and this was a good opportunity to unite everyone,” he said.

Herbst said that he was confident that Margate would be ready to host tourists during the winter holidays and that this would be an opportunity to showcase the offerings in the coastal resort

Sunday Tribune