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Services restored in Umdloti after floods, but residents still in fear over hilltop development

South Africa - Durban - 23 May, 2022 - Damaged properties in uMdloti damaged by the recent floods. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

South Africa - Durban - 23 May, 2022 - Damaged properties in uMdloti damaged by the recent floods. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 24, 2022


Durban - Water and electricity has been restored to the Umdloti area, just north of Durban, after it was cut for weeks due to the damages caused to the infrastructure during the April and May floods.

Residents can now resume life as normal but fears over the situation at a nearby property development, which was the alleged cause of destruction during the floods, hangs like a cloud over the community.

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Speaking to IOL, a resident who spoke on behalf of the community, Kevin Minter-Brown, said they had not heard anything from the Ethekwini Municipality and the Salta development team.

The Salta development sits atop a hill overlooking Umdloti.

Residents from the area said sand flowed from the development into their homes during the storm.

Earlier this month, residents in the area protested against the developer, saying it did not follow the proper environmental protocols. Residents delivered a memorandum of grievances to the developer during the protest.

An eMdloti resident holds up a sign in support of the families who lost their homes during the flood. Picture: Jehran Naidoo/Independent Media.

“Unfortunately, they did not respond to our request but what has happened, thanks to the local and national media attention we got, we have a lady named Nicole Barlow that has come on board with us.

“She has been pushing the City to get some documents. We have been trying to get those documents to see how it was built but we have been facing real push back from Salta and the City when we tried to obtain those,” Minter-Brown said.

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Minter-Brown said one of the biggest concerns among community members was that if it had to rain heavily again, they suffer the same fate in terms of the mudslides.

IOL got in touch with Barlow the environmental activist, on Thursday, to ask about the progress that had been made in her investigation against the developer.

Barlow said the response she received from the developer for Salta was ‘arrogant and non-co-operative’.

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“Based on the aerial footage that was sent to me, it was my initial assessment that in all likelihood, either their authorisation was unlawful or they had gone beyond the scope of their authorisation.

“Because to clear that scale of vegetation in one go for such an extensive development without any sort of security of the dune and in terms of coastal environmental policy, there had to be something wrong,” Barlow said.

“That is why I am reasonably sure that something’s going wrong because in the 18 years I have been fighting unlawful developments, I usually get the cold shoulder when there’s a problem,” she added.

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Barlow said she is still in the process of obtaining the relevant documentation that shows whether or not Salta was legally approved to develop the land.

Salta Sibiya issued a statement shortly after the flood in May, saying that its development had been approved by the city.

“All of our developments have received all of the necessary approvals from all relevant municipal departments. For Salta Sibaya that includes:

• The Salta development has a fully approved stormwater management plan

• The site conformed and continues to conform to all EIAs (environmental impact assessments) and an EMP (environmental management plan), audited fortnightly.

• All plans for works on site are approved through the eThekwini Municipality,” it said.