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KZN flood victims in limbo in the halls - Misery despite the R151.2m grant

Umlazi H section where a house collapsed during the floods in April. /THULI DLAMINI
Umlazi H section where a house collapsed during the floods in April. /THULI DLAMINI

Scores of victims of the recent floods spent freezing winter in dire conditions, in community halls around Durban and other parts of KwaZulu-Natal province despite millions of rands having been set aside to assist them.

The devastating floods resulted in the deaths of 87 people in KZN, the Eastern Cape and the Free State provinces on Easter Monday.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni announced recently that over R151.2m went to KZN to assist victims and their families to deal with the ravages of the floods.

With 71 casualties, KZN was the hardest hit province. Damage to homes and infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water and sanitation services in the province is estimated at R1.1bn.

The eThekwini metro alone is said to have suffered over R650m in damages.

In Umlazi, south of Durban, 14 people lost their lives and 124 houses were destroyed, especially those in informal settlements and other low-lying areas. Chatsworth, Malvern, Queensburgh, and Mariannhill were also affected.

In Burlington informal settlement in Queensburgh, west of Durban, 39 victims of the floods, mostly women and young children, are still languishing in a crowded and dilapidated community hall.

Nomahlubi Mabaleka, a domestic worker, lost all her belongings, including her ID, furniture and appliances when her shack was washed away.

She said she is tired of living in the communal hall and was considering rebuilding her shack in the same stand where the previous one stood.

She said promises of assistance have not been fulfilled.

Dorris Mncwango, also of Burlington, said life is hard at the hall as they struggle for food. NGOs and aid agencies that used to deliver food soon after the floods have since stopped doing so.

"The eThekwini municipality disaster management department brought maize meal [bags] and rice last month. We heard about the aid by the government, but we have not seen anything. People who are staying in halls need help, fast," Mncwango said.

Attempts to get a comment from MEC Sipho Hlomuka's KZN co-operative governance and traditional affairs office proved fruitless.

However, he told journalists during his maiden budget speech in the legislature that damage to the infrastructure due to the floods was extensive.

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