TONGAAT FLOOD VICTIMS FIND HOPE

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By Precious Mupenzi

  • Tongaat, a community in Durban, experienced revitalisation after facing neglect following devastating floods that struck twice, leaving residents destitute and displaced.
  • Over the past two years, KwaZulu-Natal has been grappling with floods, resulting in displacement and loss of lives, affecting communities like Tongaat.
  • Councillor Dolly Munien detailed the challenges faced by Tongaat residents due to flooding in 2022 and 2024, leading to evacuations, loss of belongings, and significant hardships, underscoring the urgent need for government support and intervention.

Hope was restored in the community of Tongaat in Durban, which felt neglected by the government after being left destitute when their area was ravaged by floods twice.

For the past two years, the province of KwaZulu-Natal has been affected by floods, leaving people displaced and claiming lives.

Councillor Dolly Munien explained that Tongaat residents endured flooding in 2022, leading to evacuations due to inundated homes and roads. They sought refuge in a temple for eight months until the water subsided, enabling them to return home.

However, the same residents were hit again by floods in January 2024, leaving them with nothing, explained Munien.

“The residents lost all their belongings including furniture, groceries, and personal documents. One of the residents is a prostate cancer patient who found himself floating on his bed not realising that the house was stormed by floods, people had to be evacuated,” she said.

Munien had been speaking during a visit to the flood victims by the Minister of Social Development who was accompanied by KZN MEC for Social Development, Ms Nonhlanhla Khoza, and South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) CEO, Ms Busisiwe Memela-Khambula.

Munien thanked the Department of Social Development and eThekwini Disaster Management for their interventions.

“It is the first time that these flood victims are receiving assistance, they were forgotten. In 2022 their details were submitted but there was no help. People were fed up and reluctant to share their details again because they viewed it as a waste of time. I am grateful to the Department of Social Development and its agency, SASSA for intervention,” she said.

According to the report by Ethekwini Metro’s Disaster Management, four areas under Ward 61 in Tongaat were affected, including Flamengo Heights, Dove Place, Low Cost, and Umbhayi Transit Height.

The report further indicated that 209 people from 75 households were affected. Of the 75 affected households, 58 have come forward to apply for food vouchers.

Among those who were affected was Tongaat resident Sibongile Buthelezi (43) who relies on her disability grant and child support grant. “I lost everything, the past two years have been difficult for my children, grandchildren, and me. When the floods hit for the second time we had a two-month-old baby in the house. But we are grateful that we were evacuated on time. I live in a small house, there are eight of us living in that house and it is not disability friendly. People like me suffer the most when such disasters occur,” she said.

The single mother-of-two appealed to the government to create opportunities that enable people with disabilities to realise their full potential, emphasising their capabilities and talents.

“I am still young, I am capable and I can work but we are overlooked due to our condition. If we get a job, we will be able to augment what the government is giving us and live a self-sustainable life,” said Buthelezi.

She explained that her life changed when she was diagnosed with Spinal Tuberculosis at the age of fifteen, which led to the loss of her ability to walk.

Minister Zulu acknowledged that the community had not been assisted by the government as much as it should have been. “We were supposed to assist them, I assure them that all the concerns they have raised will be prioritised. The community has raised their concerns and as a caring government, we have noted them and will act on them. It is our responsibility as a government to create a conducive environment. This requires all departments involved to work together from a national to provincial level. We understand their plight and we want something to be done as quickly as possible. Government cannot afford to leave people behind,” said the minister.

The minister further highlighted the issue of absent fathers in communities and its harm to women who ended up carrying the huge burden of raising their children alone.

“A call from the Department of Social Development is that all fathers must take responsibility. Women take responsibility for children even if they have nothing. Men have no excuse, taking responsibility goes beyond money. This will assist to alleviate the pressure from women,” she concluded.

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