It’s bad governance, not the rain, say flood-hit KwaMashu residents
Politicians are out in full force as frustrated residents count the cost to their homes and pockets
As mop-up operations began in earnest in flood-ravaged KwaMashu, angry residents burned political party T-shirts and started pointing fingers at the ANC-led municipality, blaming the sprawling Durban township’s poor drainage for their plight.
Sunday brought disaster to many parts of KwaZulu-Natal, besieged by heavy downpours and flash floods that claimed the lives of at least six people.
Worst hit was KwaMashu, north of the city, where roads were flooded and cars and homes damaged by the raging water.
On Monday fed-up residents took to the streets, burning rubble in a bid to draw the government’s attention to their pleas for an upgraded drainage system.
Others took to social media to vent their frustration, claiming excessive litter thrown into stormwater drains had caused a blockage and led to the flooding.
“Municipality must fix the stormwater drains,” one social media user said.
Co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube conducted a site inspection of the flood-hit area to assess the damage and assure residents a plan was in place to house displaced residents.
They also visited the family where three members – a mother, father and child – were washed away. The bodies of the father and a child have been recovered, but the mother is still missing.
In another incident, two people were reported missing in the Verulam area, while a woman drowned in Blackburn when her car was swept into a swollen river.
“Police search is still ongoing for all the missing persons. The scale of devastation is overwhelming,” said MEC Dube-Ncube.
EFF MP Marshall Dlamini also arrived with his entourage “to assess the damage for ourselves and find solutions to what can be done immediately”.
The MEC appealed to political parties to not “politicise” disasters, as some politicians were seen canvassing for votes instead of supporting the affected residents.
“I know it is election season, but the values of ubuntu must not desert us even in an election season. We have deaths, kids who need uniforms, families who need food, and all need support. It is highly immoral and opportunistic to canvass votes from people in distress, especially when you come empty handed being a member of parliament. This is the time to assist people in need, not to resort to empty publicity stunts,” said Dube-Ncube
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said a team was hard at work “unblocking and mopping up”.
“We are trying our level best to ensure that nothing in our drainage system is impeding water to flow with ease,” said Mayisela.
“However, we require our communities to play their part by refraining from disposing of solid waste in our drainage system.
“Reason being that the more we continue with this behaviour, it results in solid waste accumulating and subsequently blocking stormwater pipes, resulting in flooding to the detriment of residents,” said Mayisela.
Resident Mduduzi Xulu, a wheelchair user, had to be carried out of his flooded home by friends.
“My wheelchair was damaged by the water. I did not expect the storm to cause such damage. I was quite scared.
“Our stormwater drainage system is bad. This is not the first time that we have had such flooding. They have to come up with a solution.”
Unemployed TB sufferer Mondli Cele is counting the cost of the stormwater damage.
“I am sick, and I don’t work. I really don’t know how I am going to repair my house, because I don’t have any money.
“I will have to live my cousin until everything dries up. There is too much damage here.
“The government makes too many promises. How can they help me now?”
Community member Jacinta Ngobese, who started a blanket and food drive on Monday, said many residents were being housed in halls.
“The damage is extensive – some have badly damaged homes in B Section,” said Ngobese.