18 months later, East London flood victims still haven’t been housed

Nonceba Pamla lost her daughter in the floods as well as her home. She is still waiting for the house she says she was promised

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Nonceba Pamla from Mdantsane inside her leaking, single room temporary home. Photos: Manqulo Nyakombi

  • Nonceba Pamla lost her daughter and narrowly escaped death herself in the January 2022 Mdantsane floods.
  • Since then she has been housed in a structure that leaks and has no toilet or formal electricity, though she was promised an RDP house.
  • Other flood victims were promised temporary accommodation but not one has been rehoused over a year and a half later.

In January 2022, floods hit East London, claiming the lives of seven people and leaving many homeless.

Nonceba Pamla lost her 18-year-old daughter, Yonela, when their shack was swept away in the floodwaters. She and her other daughter survived by clinging to a tree for three hours.

Pamla says she was promised an RDP house at the time by then deputy mayor Princess Faku, now mayor of Buffalo City.

Other flood victims were promised shelter in unoccupied bungalows built for Duncan Village housing beneficiaries. But over a year and half later, not one of the flood victims has been rehoused. And the bungalows stand empty, left to vandals.

After being housed in the community hall for about two weeks, some of the flood victims rebuilt their shacks, once again dangerously close to the river.

“They only promised to move us to temporary shelters because Premier Oscar Mabuyane was here with television people. After they left, they never returned,” says Sikelela Funo, who lost his shack in the flood.

The one-room structure on the construction site where Nonceba Pamla and her daughter have been housed for the past 18 months. Sometimes she is forced to wake up at 4am to open the gate for the workers as there is no guard at the site.

Pamla says she was promised a house by Faku when the media was present.

What she was moved to was a one-room structure on a construction site, not far from the ward councillor’s office. It does not have a toilet, and the roof leaks when it rains. During the day she and her daughter use a toilet in the ward councillor’s office; at night they use a bucket.

For electricity she has had to resort to an informal connection. She says it costs her R500 every time the cable is stolen, which is quite often. She makes a living by selling frozen meat, so electricity is essential for her.

Pamla showed proof of letters asking for help that she delivered to Faku and Municipal Speaker Humphrey Maxegwana.

In her letter to Faku, she says: “I stopped bothering the ward councillor about this issue because when I tell her, her response is that, I’m ungrateful after she has buried my daughter.”

Ward Councillor Veliswa Mrwebi said she doesn’t know anything about a promised RDP house, but as the bungalows were far away she suggested Pamla be housed in the building near her office.

Samkelo Ngwenya, spokesperson for Faku, sent GroundUp an evasive reply.

He said: “As government, we implemented short and long term measures which were related to securing the safety of flood victims and finding long term solutions … all the short term interventions were implemented successfully. The cases in question have been redirected to the local ward councillor.”

“I’m tired and frustrated,” says Pamla. “Going back to a shack might be a better option than this house, but at the same time I always think about the incident … How my daughters’ body was found down the stream. I still have scars from that day … My last-born dragged me out of the water. We had to cling to a tree for almost three hours.

“But since our government is dragging their feet in helping me, I will be forced to go back to that place where I lost my daughter,” she said.

Temporary homes promised to Mdantsane flood victims are being vandalised.

TOPICS:  Disaster Housing

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