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Eastern Cape counting the cost after floods

Minister Zulu, MEC Lusithi visit those who lost loved ones, homes, promising support at local, provincial and national levels

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu in Mdantsane Nu7 during her visit with MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi.
Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu in Mdantsane Nu7 during her visit with MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi.

Two community halls in Mdantsane have become home to a number of people who lost their houses during the killer floods which hit Buffalo City Metro and other parts of the Eastern Cape at the weekend.

The rains brought death and destruction to township communities including Mdantsane and Duncan Village.

On Monday, police said 14 people had died across the province as a result of the floods. 

The Zone 7 community hall is stacked with mattresses and a few bags along the wall, while laundry items hang on bathroom walls. 

On Wednesday, social development minister Lindiwe Zulu and MEC Siphokazi Lusithi visited Z one 7 and Duncan Village community halls. 

Zulu and Lusithi offered messages of comfort and support to the many families who lost their homes and belongings.

The Pamla family lost 18-year-old Yonela to the floods on Saturday.

Yonela was swept away by raging waters and drowned. Her body was discovered by divers four hours later. 

Zulu said now that disaster had struck, effective co-ordination was needed from all spheres of government — local, provincial and national structures. 

The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), which provides grants to qualifying people, has responded to the disaster.

Lusithi said the department would assist those who had misplaced their Sassa cards and documentation in the floods by reissuing cards so they could receive their social grants. 

Zulu said: “Every year we know floods are going to happen. Every year we know when the destructive fires come along.

“What is important for us to do as a department is to take responsibility for the wellbeing of the citizens of this country.” 

Zulu was frank. “As departments we need to be honest and tell you [residents] when we do not have land to build houses for the people.

“We also need to engage with you and alert you to what could happen to your homes in case of disasters like the floods.”

Lusithi said the provincial department could not yet quantify the flood damage; social workers and the municipal disaster team were still busy with assessments. 

“The response from home affairs, Sassa and human settlements will be informed by those numbers.”

Lusithi said the department was providing counselling services, food parcels and ready-made meals through community nutrition development centres that provided three meals a day. 

“They combine breakfast and lunch and then provide supper to those who are placed in the halls. Those who are hosted by neighbours get food parcels,” Lusithi said. 

Blankets and mattresses were given to all victims.

She said the department had mobilised NGOs and other stakeholders such as Meals on Wheels and Gift of the Givers to assist with disaster management. 

School uniforms would be provided for pupils who had lost everything. 

“There are social workers attached to each family at community halls and homes.

“Based on the report of the social workers, where there are school-going children, they will be provided with the necessary support,” Lusithi said.

Ward councillor Veliswa Mrwebi said the community had been left shocked and devastated by the floods. 

“People’s homes have been destroyed. The roads have also been destroyed.

“In one area a disabled woman was nearly swept away by the water.

“This has all caused much heartache in the community.” 

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