Infant rescued as storms lash Pretoria

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Mapule Mapiti had to wade through knee-deep water to rescue her granddaughter. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi

Johannesburg - Some residents of Phase Two in Itsoseng just outside Pretoria were subjected to misery when their homes were flooded on Wednesday night after heavy rains pounded most of the city.

Furniture, food, electrical equipment and clothes were damaged after incessant rains pounded the area from around 8pm to 6am on Thursday.

A six-week-old baby was caught up in the storm when her grandmother’s shack in which she was sleeping with her mother was flooded.

Her grandmother had to wade through nearly knee-high water to get her to safety after water threatened their bed and cot.

Mapule Mapiti, 38, said she was asleep with her a 21-year-old daughter and her six-week-old infant, who was in her cot, when it started raining heavily.

Water began to flood the tarred road in front of their shack.

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Mapule Mapiti plays with Olwethu, her six-week-old granddaughter in her cot in a shack. She had to rescue her from floods. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi


“At first I was not really worried. Every December our area gets flooded,” said Mapiti, who has been living in the area for four years.

However, when her fridge completely switched off and the lounge table was almost completely covered in water, the grandmother said she realised her family could be in danger.

When the Pretoria News arrived at Mapiti’s house around noon the water was ankle deep.

The front garden area was completely covered in muddy water.

Mapiti’s neighbour, Dora Mokoena, called Mapiti at about 9pm concerned that the infant’s life might be in danger.

“I offered to take the baby from across the fence,” Mokoena said, showing the Pretoria News the spot where she had stood at the time.

“I wasn’t going to take that chance,” Mapiti said. She chose instead to wade through the muddy water holding the baby but since it was too dark for her to see she stopped halfway between the shacks and the gate.

There are no street lights in the area.

Granny Lenah Mosweu, whose house was also badly flooded, said she stepped off her bed around that time to find that she was stepping into a “lake”.

Mosweu, who immediately called her 29-year-old son for help had gone to fetch buckets to try to scoop out the water.

Mosweu’s yard was also flooded as far as the gate. Her mattresses, sofas and speakers were all drenched in water.

When a police van on night patrol spotted Mapiti with the infant they switched on their lights for them.

Mapiti said she had to carefully wade through the water with the baby.

Her daughter followed them closely.

Mosweu, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and a heart condition, said a wardrobe in her bedroom fell over backwards from the pressure of the flooding water.

A poor drainage system is apparently to blame for the flooding in the area.

“If only they can build proper drains and furrows deep enough to carry the water, there wouldn’t be so much flooding,” said resident Lazarus Masemenne.

He blamed the ward councillor who allegedly has never reported the infrastructural crisis in the area.

“I only play oversight. I cannot call the shots about whether the road design is proper or not,” said Justice Totetsi when questioned about the matter.

Mokoena said they would now rely on a man who lived nearby and has a swimming pool pump, to come and drain their houses of water using a generator. He charges R300 a house.

Wednesday’s rains follow a major hailstorm which occurred at the end of November and damaged many homes in Mamelodi and Soshanguve.

Rooftops, windows and solar geysers were damaged during the storm.

South African Weather services reported that Wednesday’s rains measured at 70mm at Hartbeespoort weather station.

Pretoria News

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