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‘We lost everything’: Families face uncertain future after floods in KZN

Search and rescue members look for Zandile Magwaza,30, believed to have been swept away by floods while sleeping at home in Kwa-Santi, Pinetown.
Search and rescue members look for Zandile Magwaza,30, believed to have been swept away by floods while sleeping at home in Kwa-Santi, Pinetown.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Many families displaced by the floods in KwaZulu-Natal do not have land to rebuild their homes, people are missing and protests about electricity and water cuts caused by damaged infrastructure continue.

The Msomi family in Ekukhanyeni in Pinetown have vowed never to return home, fearing the floods will come back.

The family comprises five members aged 11 months to 30 years. Their father passed away in 2019 followed by their mother in 2020. They had retired from working in the security industry and as a cleaner respectively.

Siblings Phumlile Msomi, 30, Njabulo Msomi, 23, and Khanyisa Msomi,11 months, in front of their destroyed home in Ekukhanyeni in Pinetown.
Siblings Phumlile Msomi, 30, Njabulo Msomi, 23, and Khanyisa Msomi,11 months, in front of their destroyed home in Ekukhanyeni in Pinetown.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Their home was built next to what used to be a stream that became a river.

The children have nowhere to go after their home was swept away in the recent floods.

Njabulo Msomi, 20, who is a breadwinner, matriculated in 2018 and the next year found employment as a general worker at a car branding and covering company in Pinetown.

Njabulo said they were not going to rebuild because the future was uncertain.

“We need a safe and better place. In 2019 we had floods but not as bad as these. If we stay here we will die should the floods come again,” he said.

Khokhoba informal settlement in Reservoir Hills.
Khokhoba informal settlement in Reservoir Hills.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

When TimesLIVE visited their home on Saturday afternoon, marks on the wall showed the water level had covered a third of the building. The family continues to search for their belongings.

“We lost everything and are left with what we are wearing. When I came back everything was gone,” said Phumlile.

Their matric certificates, birth certificates, SA Social Security Agency card and parents’ death certificates were washed away.

Njabulo said R8,000 which he had withdrawn the previous day for driver’s licence lessons had also been in the house. 

Not far away a search and rescue team was searching for a missing woman believed to have been swept away by floods.

Zandile Magwaza, 34, was sleeping at home in Kwa-Santi, Pinetown. Her partner survived after clinging to a mango tree and was later taken to hospital with multiple broken bones.

Search and rescue operations entered their eighth day on Monday. Infrastructure is damaged, affecting water and electricity supplies.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa visited flood-ravaged areas in the province, hundreds of angry Bhambayi residents closed off the M25 highway in Inanda. While people were protesting, motorists in a Toyota 4X4 bakkie fired shots to disperse the crowd and the incident was caught on camera. On Sunday afternoon residents from Kwa-Santi blockaded roads with burning tyres and debris, demanding water.

Nhlanhla Mthembu,45, boils water for tea during an electricity outage after floods damaged power supply infrastructure. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU
Nhlanhla Mthembu,45, boils water for tea during an electricity outage after floods damaged power supply infrastructure. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Thabani Sekhoacha, 60, spent a sleepless night in his car watching his house in New Germany collapse. He feared the entire house would crumble and woke his children to sleep in the car.

“The river is coming to the house. Wake up. Let’s go to the car,” Sekhoacha told his children.

At the back of the house were three cottages. One was flooded and the other two were on the verge of collapse due to soil erosion.

A motorist was caught on camera when he fired gunshots to disperse protesting Bhambayi community members.
A motorist was caught on camera when he fired gunshots to disperse protesting Bhambayi community members.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

“A portion of the house collapsed with everything inside. Fortunately our tenant escaped without injuries,” said Sekhoacha.

“Even if I have the means to rebuild, the problem is my land is gone.”

Priscilla Msimango, 45, washes mud from salvaged clothes after her house was flooded.
Priscilla Msimango, 45, washes mud from salvaged clothes after her house was flooded.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

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