The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Zweli Mkhize in his capacity as the political head responsible for disaster management in the country, today, 24 April 2019, joined President Cyril Ramaphosa today in visiting the areas devastated by floods which have claimed more than 50 lives in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Minister had begun his visit to KZN on Wednesday 23 April where he engaged the Provincial leadership, especially the CoGTA department in KZN about the unfolding work on the ground from various spheres, institutions and organisations aimed at assisting families and communities that have been devastated.
Some parts of the KZN province saw severe weather conditions, including storms, strong winds and heavy rain in the last few days. Rains have battered parts of the Eastern Cape Province as well. Hundreds of homes are damaged.
“Some people, especially in KZN have lost property and lives. The damage is also visible as the infrastructure across the province is destroyed and in some areas it is dangerous for communities to utilise. Many roads, bridges, settlements were negatively affected. The devastation is visible and untold pain has been inflicted upon the people and as government we are doing everything possible to assist. The President of the Republic came to see first-hand the devastations left behind by the torrential rains which had surpassed 200mm, thereby leading to flooding in some areas,” said Minister Mkhize.
“A significant number of communities lost their homes and belongings through these disaster incident and so far in the worst-hit areas, emergency accommodation is being provided for communities who are were misplaced by the incident. Infrastructure was seriously damaged and government across all spheres is providing a coordinated response to this incident, not only in KZN, but also in the Eastern Cape Province”, said Minister Mkhize.
Speaking to the media onsite of the disaster incident, the President emphasised the need for a coordinated approach in providing assistance to the victims.
In Umlazi, the river has swept and damaged informal housing structures, especially those built on its banks. Those who saw and experienced this incident unfolding, have related their stories to the leadership as they were moving around visiting the affected areas.
The continuing rain in some areas is not making things easy and mop-up operations are unlikely to commence in such conditions.
Currently disaster teams continue with their operations to bring people to safety and assist those in need. The disaster teams have reported that with mudslides and sinkholes swallowing homes, it is now a race against time to rescue those that have not been accounted for.
“The extent of the damage in certain areas requires the expertise on engineers and others who are qualified to guide the process to repair all that has been damaged and rebuilding of what is damaged”, said Minister Mkhize.
Minister Mkhize urged communities to heed the call and tips from the authorities regarding the extreme weather conditions, especially areas that are not safe, like bridges, roads, homes and other infrastructure.
KwaZulu-Natal emergency services said that they are working round the clock to minimise impact of flooding on communities and providing assistance to those affected. “Both Minister Mkhize and the President have thanked the disaster personnel from all across the province for their selfless speedy response in assisting communities.
CoGTA, will continue to coordinate all role-players in order to respond rapidly to the incident in KZN. Government is also paying attention on other Provinces that are experiencing the same challenges.
Minister Mkhize conveyed heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the bereaved and wished those injured speedy a recovery.