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“I could hear the entire building creak,” says Umdloti resident whose home was condemned after flood

Umdloti resident John Royal, 67, whose home was destroyed during the recent floods, holds up a sign during a protest on Wednesday. The residents were protesting against a property developer whom they accused of being behind the destruction. Image: Theo Jeptha/African News Agency (ANA)

Umdloti resident John Royal, 67, whose home was destroyed during the recent floods, holds up a sign during a protest on Wednesday. The residents were protesting against a property developer whom they accused of being behind the destruction. Image: Theo Jeptha/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 25, 2022

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Durban: Owning a home near the beach could arguably be a dream for most Durbanites or future home-owners. But after the floods in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, that dream might be overshadowed by doubt.

Residential areas along Durban’s north coast were severely damaged during this month’s heavy rain and flooding that received a level 10 rating by the SA Weather Service.

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Residents from the Umdloti area, where mudslides caused many homes to wash away, protested on Wednesday against a property development company.

The residents say sand from the Salta Sibiya development on the M21 was not properly retained and therefore washed down into homes on Bellamont Road, among other places.

A complex on Bellamont Road, Surfside, made news after an entire wing was washed away, leaving a 30m deep trench. Residents were forced to evacuate as parts of their homes slowly fell away.

Louisa Jacobs, who owns a ground-level flat at Surfside, said she had to leave her home of 30 years after her apartment was declared not safe to live in.

She said around 16 homes in the complex so far, have been condemned.

As you walk out of her patio and into the garden area, the neighbour on the left was no longer there. Instead, a huge ditch remains. The home is estimated to be valued at around R2 million, Jacobs says.

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“This was our home for 30 years,” she says, pointing to the building.

“I live in C12. The crack up there shows the building has been condemned. We didn’t have time to get anything out.

“The night it happened, there was a guy that walked around with a flash light, warning people to get out. I saw him at my front door and he flashed me, telling me to leave. I could even hear the floor and walls moving. I could hear the building creak,” Jacobs told IOL.

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John Royal, another resident of Bellemont Road in Umdloti, saw his entire home destroyed. He said his house, which is worth around R6m, was unfit for renovations and had to be rebuilt.

The 67-year-old architect and his wife were forced to evacuate after the water came down on their house from both sides.

“We were away, thankfully, but they showed us photos of the water in our house and it was huge. We put a curb to direct the water after the first flooding but that didn’t help much. Last month, the damages were around R980,000 but, this time, I think it's gonna be five times that.

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“It's starting to sink in that we don’t have a home anymore. For the future, we were going to create a B&B and then travel for a bit but now that’s all on halt. In a day, it's like our future was cut in half,” Royal said.

Jacobs and Royal were part of the protest on Wednesday, staged by around 50 residents from the area. They handed over a memorandum to the Salta Sibiya developers.

Salta did not have a representative on site. A private security company member from Marshall Security received the memo on behalf of DEVMCO developers.

Five days ago, Sibiya Salta, developed by DEVMCO, put out a statement on its social media page to provide an update on the flooding.

It said the development has a fully approved stormwater management plan and that all planned works had been approved by the eThekwini Municipality.

Salta said “no dam structures” were created, contrary to the “false aspirations” being made.

“The Salta Sibiya developers, in conjunction with our contractors, have always maintained the highest levels in planning and implementation, with strict compliance to all national and municipal laws and any applicable by-laws,” it said.

IOL

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