Flooding misery in Ekuphumleni

Nomasitsho Masiza has been forced to abandon her waterlogged bedroom.

Ekuphumleni residents were still mopping up at the weekend after heavy rains swamped their shacks last week.

Three days of rain flooded large parts of Phoenix and Joe Slovo, forcing some shack dwellers in Ekuphumleni to abandon their homes, according to residents.

At the weekend, residents, including children, were negotiating their way through damp, cramped passages between the shacks, using bricks to ford deluged parts of the settlement.

The insides of the shacks were bitterly cold and there was a pervading stench of mould and damp.

The owner of this shack was forced to leave after trying to use this bucket to clear water from his home.

Residents said they had asked the City for sand to soak up the water flooding their homes, but the City had not provided any. The City did not respond to a query about this claim.

“We’ve been talking to the City of Cape Town. We requested the City to intervene because this is a disaster, but they said they could not help us,” said Joyce Marhoyi Mfiki, chairwoman of the Ekuphumleni Crisis Committee.

“It’s extremely wet and cold because the water is still inside the shacks and even in some of the formal houses around here.”

She said the situation was worse for shack dwellers as they had no electricity – illegal connections had been knocked out by the heavy rains.

“We were also told people can no longer live in the community hall. Apparently this has always been the case since Covid-19,” Ms Mfiki said.

Bianca Mkhoboka said she had abandoned her bedroom because the water was ankle-high, with no signs of subsiding.

“We vote every election cycle, but when we are in need, the people who had come to ask for our votes are nowhere to be seen,” Ms Mkhoboka said.

Bianca Mkhoboka has abandoned her bedroom.

Nomasitsho Masiza showed Tabletalk two shacks that had been abandoned due to flooding.

“I wear gumboots because my house is damp. I sleep elsewhere because there is a lot of water in the bedroom,” Ms Masiza said, adding that the water was ankle-high in some parts of her shack.

Meanwhile, in a statement at the weekend, the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre spokeswoman Charlotte Powell said depots were still busy clearing roadways, unblocking drains and removing debris after reports of localised flooding across the city.

Ms Powell said the City was still assessing the situation and dealing with responses.

EFF regional spokesperson Andiswa Madikazi said the City had been ill-prepared to deal with the floods in Dunoon, Milnerton and other areas despite assurances made about the winter-readiness programme in a statement issued by mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis on Thursday May 5.

She claimed the City had not honoured promises made in the statement to jet clean 100km of pipe in flood-prone parts of the city.

“These empty promises have proven to be nothing else but lip service that seeks to cajole the residents of the Cape metro into thinking that the DA-led administration is doing something for them when, in actual fact, they do nothing to better the lives of the poor.”

She said the flooding crisis across townships raised questions about what had happened to the cleaning of stormwater drains, ponds, canals and gullies in flood-prone areas and the status of the City’s pledge to spend R1.6bn on water and sanitation infrastructure over the next financial year, including the replacement of the Cape Flats main sewer.

Mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi said Ekuphumleni was located within a retention pond, which was designed to catch water and dam it up.

“The water cannot feasibly be removed. There are no reasonable engineering flood-mitigation measures that can be successfully implemented in these instances due to the flood-prone nature of the land,” Mr Booi said.

Parts of Phoenix were flooded during last week’s heavy rainfall.