Watch the Sitholes every Thursday at 17h30 on e.tv
Johannesburg - The relentless rainfall has wreaked havoc in Kliptown, Soweto. And families whose homes were swept away by floodwaters are being sheltered in a community hall.
Emergency Management Services spokeswoman Nana Radebe said 158 people, including 30 families, had been displaced and had to leave their possessions to take refuge in the hall, where they were given food and blankets.
When The Star visited Kliptown on Sunday, some of the residents’ belongings – soaked mattresses and damaged furniture – were strewn outside their homes.
Some of the shacks had been washed away, and small tracts of land were waterlogged. The narrow paths around the shacks were submerged and residents had to step on bricks to get into their homes.
A pensioner, who didn’t want to be named, lost his ID book, his state pension card and antiretrovirals.
He said the water level in the low-lying area where his shack is situated was waist deep.
“I’ve lost my ID… all my documents are gone. My bed is wet and broken, but I have to sleep here because if I don’t keep watch over my things, they’ll get stolen.”
Matsietsi Mofokeng, one of the City of Joburg officials assisting the residents, said many of the flood victims were afraid to leave their possessions.
The majority of families went to the community hall to get their meals, but returned to their homes for the night. Mofokeng said about 50 people, many of them children, slept in the hall.
For Josephina Mokoena, getting to the hall, which is within walking distance from her shack, was too much of a struggle.
The pensioner, who lives with her three grandchildren, lay on a single mattress on the muddy floor in her shack.
The bottom half of her kitchen cupboards had been submerged in the floods.
“That’s where the water came up to,” she said, lying on her mattress covered with a floral blanket smeared with mud.
“My body’s sore and I’ve got chest pains… maybe I’ll go to the clinic tomorrow.”
Mofokeng said it was always the same families whose shacks lay below the floodline that were affected by torrential rain.
She added that plans were under way to move them to a safer area.
Meanwhile, in Limpopo, heavy rains left at least one family in a crisis after a woman and her husband went missing on Friday.
Sarah Viljoen and her husband Eric Sparrow were washed away after a nearby dam overflowed, swamping their indoor swimming pool at Kariba Lodge in Bela-Bela.
A search team spent the weekend trying to find the elderly couple. The body of the 74-year-old Sparrow was found on Saturday, but the search for 69-year-old Viljoen continued on Sunday.
Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the search party were doing their utmost to find her.
And, as the country started to recover from last week’s heavy rains and flooding, Zimbabwe also felt the wrath of Mother Nature.
On Friday, some reports said thousands of Zimbabweans had been displaced by heavy rain and flood damage, and that several people had drowned.
Gift of the Givers said on Friday it had information that many people had drowned in Zimbabwe.
The organisation’s founder and spokesman, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, said thousands of people were also reported to have been displaced.
The Zimbabwean government confirmed that five people had lost their lives and that about 2 500 were immediately at risk.
Sooliman said his organisation would be sending a representative to Zimbabwe today to determine the extent of the flood damage.
He added that volunteers were at the ready and that resources had been made available to provide relief to people affected by the floods.
The Department of Roads and Transport in Limpopo said sections of main arterials had been washed away and warned drivers to exercise extreme caution.
A man and two children drowned in Mpumalanga on Tuesday, while at least 12 others had to be rescued from the rising floods.
In North West, about 150 households near Brits were affected by flooding on Thursday.