Pretoria - Two families in Atteridgeville are living in fear that they might be buried alive inside a potentially dangerous sinkhole, which opened up beneath a house on Saturday morning.
Seipati Ramatuma, who lives next to the affected house, said her family was woken up by a loud bang on Saturday at about 6.45am.
“It was during those heavy rains on Saturday. My mother was the first to wake up and she wanted to know if there were people busy digging a hole behind the house. She came out to check whether the neighbours were digging a hole. She was shocked to discover that a huge hole had formed in our neighbour’s yard.”
No one knew what was the main cause of the sinkhole except that it developed during the rains. “This earth surface just sank in and it affected the two houses.”
Ramatuma said the affected families had pleaded with the City of Tshwane for assistance, but no one has come to their rescue.
She said local councillor Solomon Sedibeng was informed and he promised to look for an alternative place for them at a community hall.
“Yesterday (Sunday) he came back to tell us that he has decided to withdraw from helping us because we have involved other political parties like the EFF and the DA,” Ramatuma said.
They were also advised to relocate to their relatives’ homes, but Ramatuma said her family can’t relocate because her relatives were in Limpopo.
“We have children who are going to school in the township and we can’t just pack up and go to Limpopo.We are deeply worried about the situation, especially at night when we have to go to bed. We are scared that our house might cave in,” she said.
The agitated families were also told that a geologist would be dispatched to assess the situation, but that had not happened.
Those living in neighbouring houses said they would try other means to repair the sinkhole if the municipality didn’t fix it in three days.
Acting Roads and Transport MMC Isak Pietersen promised to make efforts to visit the place by the end of today.
He said plans have to be made to relocate the affected families from their houses.
“I will make it a point that I drive there either today (yesterday) or tomorrow (today) and I will then you give a call.”
Tshwane Emergency Services spokesperson Charles Mabaso said he was aware of the incident, adding that it was reported to the local regional office for further assessment.
He confirmed that the sinkhole occurred during the weekend’s rainy weather.
Mabaso said authorities have not calculated the cost of damages caused by the rains in the city because “some of the damage was experienced in private households”.
“For example, we had situations whereby people’s belongings got wet,” he said.
Regarding the sinkholes, he said: “I still have to get the details as to the damage caused by the sinkholes.”
Mabaso said in Centurion a ceiling collapsed in one of the shops at China Mall. “We are not sure if it is related to the rain or the floods,” he said.
Most of the damage was done in the western part of the city.
“The water level at the Hennops River was increasing but there was no damage reported.
“We saw a photo of a Range Rover vehicle trapped in Centurion circulating on social media, but by the time our people went there the driver had already been taken out of the vehicle,” Mabaso added.