Many Komani shack dwellers dare not move to safety despite floods

The low-lying informal settlement of Silvertown has been under water since Wednesday

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Silvertown informal settlement flooded on Wednesday. Photos: Johnnie Isaac

Residents from the low-lying informal settlement of Silvertown in Komani (formerly Queenstown) say they lost food, clothes, furniture, and many belongings after their shacks were hit by the severe floods that struck the area this week.

Water began to reach shacks in Silvertown after the Komani River breached its banks in the early hours of Wednesday morning, forcing many people to sleep on their rooftops.

While hundreds of residents have abandoned their homes for safety shelters prepared by the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality, the residents of Silvertown say they will stay put.

Some have sought refuge in the homes of relatives, but many say they have nowhere to go and cannot abandon their shacks and belongings to looters.

Noxolo Maphipha’s bed was damaged by the overflowing Komani River

Noxolo Maphipha’s shack is built right on the banks of the Komani River. She was flooded before, in 2012, “but it was not as bad as this time”, she says.

She and her partner were sleeping and woke up when the water reached mattress level.

“We didn’t know where to run to. Neighbours were shouting that we must climb to the rooftop. We were assisted by the community to climb onto the roof because my partner has one arm; he couldn’t climb on his own,” said Maphipha.

Bukiwe Noyi is assisted by Noyekanje Polo, Ntsikelelo Ndinisa, Vuyolwethu Mbasane, Andile Marawu and Thozama Matshwete to remove what is left from her shack to the home of a relative. She was asleep when the shack flooded. They climbed onto the roof.

Noyekanje Polo has lived at Silvertown since 1995. It is not the first flood she has experienced in that time.

“I have had enough of living in a shack. The government must intervene. Our councillors are not doing anything for us. They only come when they are looking for votes and we want their assistance now,” she said.

Chris Hani District Municipality spokesperson Bulelwa Ganyaza said traffic officials were forced to close some streets in Komani, such as Perlem Road and Griffiths Street, as well as some bridges for safety.

She said Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality had provided shelter for about a thousand people who had been evacuated.

Ganyaza said that there have been no reported deaths so far.

TOPICS:  Housing

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