DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has commended disaster management teams and non-governmental organisations for swiftly leading the evacuation of more than 100 residents from flooded areas in Ladysmith.
Hlomuka yesterday visited the disaster-stricken area to assess the extent of flooding and to monitor the roll-out of relief efforts.
He was accompanied by the mayor of uThukela District Ntandoyenkosi Shabalala, the mayor of the Alfred Duma local municipality Zama Sibisi and Inkosi Ngqayizivela Sithole, who is the chairperson of uThukela Local House of Traditional Leaders.
According to a statement issued by the MEC’s office, Hlomuka engaged with some of the affected business owners and members of the community and assured them of the government’s commitment to dealing with the cause of the flooding and finding a permanent solution that would protect the town from future natural disasters.
Apart from the Ladysmith flooding, disaster management teams said that heavy rains in the catchment areas led to the uThukela River bursting its banks over the weekend and affecting communities and towns located along its path, including Msinga.
Hlomuka issued a warning to communities that live along the banks of the river to be extremely cautious.
“Currently the bridge linking Kranskop and Nkandla is submerged in water. We appeal to the community in this area to not go near the bridge and for parents to guard their children,” said Hlomuka.
The department said that in the Mandeni Local Municipality, 20 families were evacuated from their homes near the river in ward 7.
In the Msinga Local Municipality, ward 5 in the Bathenjini area, 15 people were evacuated yesterday and moved to a municipal hall for safety reasons.
These floods come after the province experienced inclement weather conditions since early December. According to Abed Karim, of the Al-Imdaad Foundation, the situation in Ladysmith was still bad.
“Although the water levels have dropped from 8m to about 7.4m. The central business district and the residential areas are still flooded due to the water levels still being high in the river,” said Karim.
He added that 125 people have been relocated to the Indoor Sports Centre and that the foundation was assisting with various intervention methods, such as the provision of hot meals, blankets, mattresses and hygiene packs.
Hlengiwe Ngwenya, a resident of Forbes Street in Ladysmith, said that she was still in disbelief about what had happened.
“I cannot believe that all we have worked for is gone just like that. When the water started gushing in, I had no choice but to leave with nothing but the pyjamas that I was wearing. I have lost everything,” said Ngwenya.
Another resident, Lucky Mthembu, said that the flood damaged his appliances, bed and the food he had just recently bought, adding that he was grateful for the assistance he had received.