The yearly rains return and re-flood informal settlements and backyards

2 06 2011

2 June 2011 – Gugulethu AEC Press Statement

While disaster relief is nowhere to be seen in communities like Thambo Square which has been flooded for days now, the real culprit is that service delivery is non-existent in our communities. Interviews with residents show that this is a chronic problem caused by the City’s top-down approach to development.

There are hundreds of thousands of shackdwellers and backyarders in Cape Town and nearly all of them suffer from the extreme weather on the Cape Flats. Many people, especially children and the elderly, become sick from the cold, the wind and the rain. Their homes are flooded every single winter destroying all their furniture and displacing families for weeks on end.

In the Western Cape, most informal dwellers do not get any assistance from NGOs or the government. This past week, the rains, which barely have an impact in wealthy areas like Camps Bay and Bishops Court, have wrecked havoc on shackdwellers and backyarders alike. And despite requests from victims, the City of Cape Town and the provincial government has refused to provide emergency and medical assistance. In Tambo Square, no alternative accomodation has been provided and so residents remain in their flooded homes. No blankets or hot soup or electricity generators where provided as the elections are well over and politicians think that the poor will forget that government did nothing for them once the next elections come around.

Mrs Rhafisa (Thambo Square) – She stays with two young children: Clod and Lavisa. Clod bleeds because of the cold and rain. He’s been bleeding for two weeks now. Mrs Rhafisa also experiences pain in her body because of the cold and wetness. Her stove, dvd player, TV, bed, blankets and clothes are all wet. She has stayed in Thambo Square for 3 years now and her home has been flooded each and every year. She has little hope that promises of a brick house will be kept.

Mrs Ngqina (Thambo Square) – She stays with her husband, sister, and young daughter. Everything in her house is wet: her stove, her dvd, and all her belongings. Her entire family is experiencing illneses such as the flu and fevers because of their flooded home. But Mrs Ngqina can’t move – even during the rains – because she has nowhere else to go.

Bonga Majilimane (Thambo Square) – His house is very wet and he is ill because of the water that comes into his shack making all his things wet and cold. His Hi-Fi and dvd player are wet and now they are no longer working. His bed and blankets are wet and because he can’t dry them, he can’t sleep at his house

These are just some of the stories of residents in Thambo Square and this is just the beginning of this winter’s rains.

So, the poor are asking for assistance from any group, company or organisation. We need plastics and/or sails to cover the roof of our shacks as well as many other items to help prevent the floods from entering our homes. We need blankets, food, etc.

But we are not only asking for disaster relief, we are also demanding a real plan to stop flooding in our communities.

  1. The first thing we need is a formal dwelling (proper houses) in a serviced area. If we had this, there would be no more flooding in our communities and the City wouldn’t even need to waste money managing distasters.
  2. If we can’t get houses, the government should at least upgrade our communities and provide proper sanitation, plumbing and water drains. Why do rich people get wonderful services like waste removal and sewer systems while we have lakes in our communities in winter?

These things are not so difficult to provide and investing in some real development would save the government lots of money in the future.

For more information, contact:

Mncedisi @ 0785808646
Malamlela @ 0845345879
Ms Bolomani @ 0730271364
Ms Sitshinga @ 0715571092




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