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All families in shelters will receive housing, says Zikalala

File Picture: KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

File Picture: KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published May 20, 2022


DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Sihle Zikalala has reaffirmed that all displaced citizens living in the 91 shelters across the province would be rehomed.

Yesterday, Zikalala said the families would first receive temporary residential units (TRU) while they waited to be permanently placed.

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The premier said 27 069 households were affected, with 8 584 houses destroyed and 13 536 partially destroyed.

Zikalala said service providers had been appointed for the construction of 1 810 TRU homes across the province.

“To date, 77 of these are complete, and progress is slowed by the suitability of land as rebuilding cannot take place in the same areas where communities were flooded. Units are being constructed in Molweni, KwaMakhutha and Inanda. These will soon be handed over to beneficiaries,” he said.

Zikalala said 49 hectares had been identified for possible residential building.

“Out of 64 mass-care centres, 21 have been linked with a possible land parcel. At least 25 land parcels from the National Department of Public Works and the provincial Department of Public Works have been identified, totalling 49ha. Detailed assessments are under way on the 25 recommended properties.”

He said 85 280 people had been affected by the floods, 448 had died and 88 people were missing.

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Regarding the people at the 91 shelters, he said the government and its social partners were providing meals, food packs, blankets, hygiene and dignity packs, and psychosocial support services, among other things.

The premier said the cost of the flood damage to public infrastructure was estimated at R25 billion, with damage to infrastructure, including roads, rail and bridges, housing, water, sanitation, electricity, agriculture and manufacturing.

“We still have the water service system still out of operation in areas such as Tongaat as they were seriously compromised by the floods.”

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Zikalala said the province had been able to process burial support of all the deceased, through the support of the Motsepe Foundation and AVBOB, except for the body of an undocumented Mozambican national that was uncollected.

“We are in touch with the family through the Mozambican Embassy as part of our daily liaison with close contacts,” said Zikalala.

Speaking on housing matters, councillors have warned the eThekwini Municipality against resettling informal settlement residents whose shacks were lost during the recent

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floods in shacks again, saying this would place them at risk when another natural disaster hits the area.

The concern comes after allegations emerged during a council meeting on Wednesday that people were rebuilding in the same area where their homes were washed away.

For the city, it is estimated that the cost to assist with housing is around R1.8bn, and to assist about 7 200 families living in the informal settlements with building materials, the city needs to cough up around R72 million.

Bongumusa Zondo, who leads the committee charged with the city’s recovery efforts, detailed the steps taken to assist those who have been left homeless and are now living in halls and churches.

“A verification of families affected in the mass centres is in progress in collaboration with social relief clusters. Screening via the housing subsidy system is being done to link people with existing structures,” Zondo said.

Councillors said the city had the responsibility to ensure that those who had been affected were relocated to safer areas.

African People First (APF) councillor Muzi Hlengwa said he was concerned about how the issues related to the disaster were unfolding.

“There is an area in ward 6 (Zamani and Mpumalanga) where community members were given planks by the municipality and were told to rebuild. For me it’s an insult that people could be washed away with their shacks, and all the municipality does is to tell that person to rebuild that shack, in light of the risk they could be again washed away with that shack,” he said.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said: “I want to caution: let us not take our people back to the informal settlement; let us identify these buildings that are not used, be it a municipal building or provincial one, and renovate those buildings and house the people there so that they do not go back to square one.”

EFF councillor Vukani Ndlovu said the municipality needs to take responsibility in cases where houses were built on floodplains and were washed away.

“Time frames have also not been given to people who are living in halls as to how and when they will be relocated from these areas,” said Ndlovu.