“The clothes we are wearing is all we have left,” says flood victim

About 60 people in Diepsloot are homeless following flash flooding on Tuesday night

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Diepsloot Extension 7 residents salvaging what they can on Wednesday after about 17 homes were destroyed by heavy rains late on Tuesday. Photos: Chris Gilili

Heavy rains this week have left about 60 people in Diepsloot homeless, with most of their belongings washed away or badly damaged.

GroundUp visited Extension 7 on Wednesday where people were seen trying to salvage what they could from the soaked rubble. Some were hanging up wet clothes, removing mud, and drying out mattresses and beds.

Betty Phiri’s home was completely destroyed by flash flooding, rendering her and her two children homeless. “The rain started falling hard around 11pm and within minutes water was everywhere. It pushed us away but we were saved by the fence. I would have washed away with my kids,” she said.

“We have lost everything. Our IDs, phones, money, food and clothing. I don’t know where we will start from here. My son has just finished his tertiary studies, and now all of his documents and certificates are gone. The clothes we are wearing is all we have left,” said Phiri.

She said they need help to buy material to rebuild their home.

Workers and community members help flood victims clear rubble and sort through their belongings.

Virginia Mhlanga, who has a six-year-old child, said, “I have stayed in a shack for over 20 years and have had enough. I have applied for an RDP but since 2009, I have not heard anything. We want houses and not their false promises and empathy. These people have been ignoring us in Diepsloot for too long.”

“I don’t even have anywhere to go. My family is in the Vaal. I will have to ask my neighbours for a place to sleep,” she said.

Ward committee leader Sam Seale said the City of Johannesburg disaster management team had been to the site and gave families warm soup and bread. He said staff from SASSA had also visited and promised to help them reapply for IDs.

Seale said many of the flood victims were meant to move to Riverside but there had been many delays.

“In 2021, the mayor’s office proposed to move these people to another area but they resisted. But today, they told the councillor they are willing to move to another space in Diepsloot. Tomorrow, we will help them move their structures,” said Seale.

The City has not yet responded to our request for comment. The response will be included once received.

TOPICS:  Disaster Housing

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