Durban - After Monday’s visit to the City Hall by flood victims, seeking help and expressing their grievances, there has reportedly been no way forward.
Members from different communities who were affected by the floods took to the City Hall to seek refuge as they said the conditions that they were living under in halls, tents and transit camps were not acceptable.
Their main concern was that there were schoolchildren about to start writing their exams and studying was impossible since many people stayed up all night making a noise.
The other issue raised was that because of a lack of privacy some people were apparently having sex in front of children and children witnessed and experienced things that no child should have to.
They had also said that winter was coming and they had no place to keep their children out of the rain and keep them warm in cold weather.
Nokwenza Jakwini, who was placed at Vezunyawo Hall in Clermont from April 11, claimed that they had received no help even after having raised their concerns numerous times.
“We want to protect our children (especially the young girls) from these dreadful living conditions. It has been two full months without any change or way forward. We sometimes sleep without blankets, we have no food and our leaders are not doing anything about it. We are surviving with donations from the local church. The reason we sought refuge at the City Hall was because we want to be taken seriously,” said Jakwini.
With all the concerns raised, they felt that the City Hall was the most suitable place for them to live in because it was warm and secure.
They claimed that the halls they were staying in did not have window panes and anyone could get in.
They went to City Hall with Umsinsi The Native Movement, which helped them address the issues they faced, and to ask officials to sympathise with flood victims.
Deputy mayor Philani Mavundla listened to their pleas. He said that they could sleep in the City Hall, but said there were channels he had to go through. He said that it was not a good idea but they were welcome to spend the night there.
He said that there were plans to assist them with food and blankets.
However, what followed after this was not what they had expected. According to Sibusio Khumalo, who is a steering committee member, “after all the conversations we had we were ambushed by Metro, RTMC, and the SAPS”.
“Community members, including old people and children, were dragged out of the hall, pepper-sprayed and had rubber bullets shot at them,” Khumalo said.
He said they had really hoped the people would be allowed to spend at least a night there but instead they were dragged back to the dehumanising conditions they had come from.
Khumalo said they would not rest until the issue reached Parliament. He emphasised that they wanted to be taken seriously, as people’s lives were being put at risk.
Mavundla asked for 48 hours to help find a solution.