By Bhongo Jacob –
The furious sea leapt up its Esplanade embankment, engulfed two shocked crafters and swept beautiful beadwork and carvings worth R16000 away, never to be seen again.
This was one of the stories which emerged after Thursday’s storm- and new moon-driven sea surge which wreaked damage, and caused fear and awe among people along the East London beachfront.
Craftsmen Christopher Muchina and Marvellous Chilonda sell their wares on the pavement, with a small wall separating them from the ocean metres below.
On Thursday, they found themselves in an angry torrent of foam and sea water as a triple-decker wave overcame embankments and poured tons of water over the Esplanade.
But the doughty business partners dried themselves off, put on their game face, and yesterday were back in business.
Muchina said: “It all happened so fast and unexpectedly. The waves came up in the afternoon and we did not think they would come all the way up to the road.”
So, they continued with business.
“The waves came again at around 4pm. We realised they were getting rougher, so we started packing up.
“The big wave hit me. I saw people running to their cars. I managed to run to the other side of the road from where I watched as our crafts washed away.”
Muchina, who took over the business from his late brother, said they could not work at the weekend.
“The weather has not been too good since Thursday. I am scared this might happen again.”
The craftsmen buy their material in Johannesburg and distribute it among each other.
Crafter Ivy Chinaire said she decided not to work on the day.
“I am lucky. My things were safe because I did not come to sell when all of this happened.”
Yesterday, Dispatch saw Buffalo City Metro (BCM) workers finishing up cleaning the area.
BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said: “The clean-up is 80% done. Affected street vendors will be able to return to their work stations, except where there are still repairs taking place.”
“At this point, the financial value to the damage caused by the waves will only be determined once all quotations are received and consolidated.”
Ngwenya said the broken pipe which pumped raw sewage onto the beach, had been fixed.
“The city’s engineering unit has managed to divert all flow from the breached sewer into supplementary and remaining sewers.”
“Emergency repairs are to commence today to reinstate the breached sewer at the aquarium. The water has caused a lot of damage to the infrastructure, shelters and the boardwalk.”