PASTOR Thembelani Jentile, of the Mamelodi West Baptist Church, the temporary home of the victims of last year’s floods.     Jacques Naude  African News Agency (ANA)
PASTOR Thembelani Jentile, of the Mamelodi West Baptist Church, the temporary home of the victims of last year’s floods. Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)

D-Day for flood victims living in Mamelodi West church

By SAKHILE NDLAZI Time of article published Jan 31, 2020

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Pretoria - The victims of last year’s floods in Mamelodi are supposed to vacate the temporary shelter at Mamelodi West Baptist Church today.

And in accordance with the initial plan, the victims were supposed to have been allocated new homes two weeks ago.

Their homes at Eerste Fabrieke informal settlement were wiped out by flash floods early in December, leaving about 1000 people displaced.

According to pastor at the church, Thembelani Jentile, the provincial government had asked for an extension until the end of the month.

That period ends today.

“They said they had allocated land on the outskirts of Mamelodi, but were waiting to seal the deal. They asked that victims be housed until the end of the month.”

But by yesterday, Jentile was without any answers regarding the fate of the victims. He said the provincial government and the City of Tshwane had not been in communication with the church.

“We are in the dark about the next move. We have been trying to reach out, but to no avail. Hopefully they will reach out (today) as they promised,” he said.

Jentile mentioned that he had heard that the matter would be discussed in yesterday’s ordinary sitting of council. However, council collapsed before it could deal with items on the agenda.

“But that is as far as I know. No solid information has been relayed to us,” he said.

Jentile, who was visibly drained, said the past month had taken a toll and affected his personal life.

“Since the incident I am almost always at the church and have somewhat neglected my family. But I guess it comes with the calling. I am concerned with the lack of communication from the authorities. It leaves us in limbo,” he said.

Jentile said he was also unsure what to tell his congregants. He said the numbers in his congregation had slightly declined since the flood victims started sleeping at the church.

“I don’t even have answers for the people. There has also been a decline in the number of people attending the church. Most of them feel it’s overcrowded,” he said.

The flood victims’ representative, Tulani Ndlovu, said they had given up on the government, so much so that most people had gone back to the disaster-stricken informal settlement.

“Maybe we need to march or have a sit-in at Tshwane House so they can hear us,” he said.

Ndlovu said that since the visit by Premier David Makhura after the floods, they had not received any help.

There are approximately 100 people living in the church, mostly women and children.

Last year, Makhura said an interim task team committee would organise new homes for the survivors.

Previously, provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said residents would soon be placed on new land.

Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Lebogang Maile said the provincial and national government had purchased land to accommodate the residents.

He said the Housing Development Agency was driving the process to accommodate the flood victims on habitable land.

“These are people who occupied land illegally. We are dealing with the consequences of anarchy. They decided to occupy low-lying land,” Maile said. However, he did not want to comment about those still living in the church.

Pretoria News

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