Cape Floods: Eleven dead and thousands homeless without help from City

In Kosovo informal settlement residents were trapped inside their homes by flood water. Photo: Qaqamba Falithenjwa/GroundUp

The recent floods in Cape Town devastated informal settlements, particularly in low lying areas that ironically offers them security from forced removal since the land is not deemed habitable.

It’s been a week since heavy rains caused destruction in the Western Cape’s informal settlements resulting in multiple deaths and homelessness. As families plan to bury their loved ones, it is alleged that the City of Cape Town (CoCT) has not gone back to assist affected communities.

The torrential rain on heritage weekend caused many rivers to overflow, flooding the informal settlements located on wetlands that are not deemed habitable for human settlement by the City of Cape Town. Open illegal electrical connections also put residents at further risk. News24 reported that eight people were electrocuted.

Khayalethu Dyamdeki’s nephew’s, Lusindo (7) and Lihle Dyamdeki (10) were two of four children who were electrocuted in Klipfontein Mission Station informal settlement in Philippi. “The boys were floating in the floods on a Styrofoam like those ones when you’ve just bought a fridge.  I assume that one of them might have been falling off and accidentally grabbed onto an electrical wire,” said Dyamdeki.

It is believed that the other two boys got electrocuted while trying to help one another. It was noticed that one of the boy’s hands was badly burnt. “We connected ourselves to the electricity supply, and I want to believe that had there not been open wires due to illegal connections, this incident would have never happened,” added Dyamdeki.

Illegal electricity connections are said to be the cause of electrocution of the children in Marikana informal settlement. Archive photo by Sandiso Phaliso.

The City of Cape Town has said it sympathises with the families affected by these tragedies but will not provide assistance to them. The Klipfontein Mission Station informal settlement, according to the city, is situated on privately-owned land and is in an Eskom supply area.

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“In general, the City, escorted by the SAPS and law enforcement, continues to conduct illegal electricity connection removal operations on a regular basis. The reality is that the connections are redone soon after it has been removed. The City continues to act in its supply areas (it cannot account for Eskom areas) in an effort to reduce the safety risks associated with illegal connection,” said Luthando Tyhalibongo, the city’s spokesperson.

The Dyamdeki family is set to bury their loved ones in Lady Frere, Eastern Cape on Sunday and have received no assistance from the city. “The only people that have assisted us with burial is Fihla Funeral Services, by providing coffins and travelling costs of the bodies. The City of Cape Town has promised us things, but today is Wednesday and there has been no update,” added Dyamdeki.

Flooding in Covid Village two weeks ago. Photo by Mziwethemba Sofika

In Covid Village in Mfuleni, Zukile Nkomana (35) was found deceased in the waist-high water that had flooded the settlement. “I was called to come immediately, because Zukile was found in the water. When I arrived on scene, indeed it was him and he was deceased,” said Nomfuneko Kota, cousin to Nkomana. The medical personnel on scene did not find any wounds or bruises on Nkomana. “At 6am I was told that they were trying to move out their furniture from the shacks and that is the last time they saw Zukile, until 8am when his jacket was floating in the water,” added Kota. Nkomana’s family is set to bury him this weekend in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape.

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The family has been asked by ward 114 councillor, Ernest Madikane, to submit Nkomana’s documents in order for the city to assist, however, nothing has been forthcoming. “I did ask the family to send through the deceased’s identity document, and death certificate so they can be submitted to the City of Cape Town. I don’t know how long the process will take,” said Madikane.

There is flooding in Cape Town every year and no long-term solutions have been provided to make vulnerable communities safe. “This happens every year and when people relocate to land that won’t easily flood, law enforcement removes them,” said Madikane.

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