Storms and flood waters devastate Cape Town’s informal settlements

The Provincial Disaster Management Centre says loss of shelter in informal settlements, localised flooding, fallen trees, electricity outages, and road closures due to snow or flooding, were reported at their meeting on Monday. All photos by Vincent Lali

Photos of Monwabisi Park in Khayelitsha and Covid Village in Mfuleni show the miserable conditions of their residents as storms lash the Western Cape.

The severe weather conditions in the Western Cape over the past weekend have left a trail of destruction for residents of informal settlements around Cape Town. According to the City of Cape Town, over 200mm of rain was recorded from the start of the storm till Tuesday morning, 9 July 2024, with 40 – 60mm forecast to fall daily until Thursday.

The Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) received reports from various districts on Monday after the first of several intense cold fronts made landfall over the past weekend, according to the Department of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

On Thursday night, a tornado ripped through shacks, displacing over 40 families and damaging
transformers and electrical wires in Monwabisi Park, Khayelitsha.

Andisiwe Eleni, a community leader in Zone Two, New Monwabisi Park, said the 39 families whose homes were devastated there have lost ID documents, birth certificates and groceries to the flood water.

The city on Tuesday issued over 4,500 flood kits to vulnerable residents in the informal settlements severely affected by the inclement weather and this number is set to rise. Assessments continue in low-lying areas, including the recording of personal details for those urgently requiring assistance from Sassa and the national human settlements department.

The informal settlements of Monwabisi Park, Ndlovini and Kuyasa were badly affected by a tornado.

“I have been pouring the water into a bucket and throwing it out since Saturday night. The rain water normally sinks in and disappears, but it doesn’t do so this time,” said Thobela Madaka from Covid informal settlement in Mfuleni. Madaka, who works as a jobbing taxi driver and stays with his wife and his two kids, said the water in his shack forces him to step on a lintel and bricks before he steps out. The water flows from a nearby flooded street and filters into his shack, he said.

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Thobela Madaka bailing water out of his flooded shack in Covid Village, Mfuleni on Monday.
Boards have been used as stepping stones to cross flooded areas in the informal settlement.
Some houses are floating in water in Covid informal settlement, Mfuleni.
Junior Bulela tries to sweep water out of his shack in Covid Village, Mfuleni on Monday.

The water filters out of the floor of Junior Bulela’s shack and drenches his furniture and bed. “The water has made my place so cold that I can’t even fall asleep. I step on bricks in order to get to my bed and sleep,” he said.

Thembelani Gaga wades through water on one of the flooded roads in Covid Village, Mfuleni on Monday.

Community leader, Thuli Booi said shack dwellers pee and defecate near a river known to locals as Gqokigqo. “Now the water flooding our shack comes with the faeces and pee and makes it smell. The smell takes days to go away,” she said. Booi called upon the City of Cape Town to assist the flood victims.

The South African Weather Services (SAWS) has provided an update on what can be expected until Friday. A series of cold fronts are still on track to make landfall, resulting in a week of wet and cold conditions. Between 10 and 20mm of rain is expected over the western parts, and between 40 and 60mm can be expected over the south western mountains.

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