South Africa: Gloomy Christmas for Flood Victims

Over eight months have passed since floods devastated parts of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape in April, yet hundreds of displaced households are set to spend Christmas in the cold.

This week, scores of families in Ntuzuma F Section in eThekwini were left homeless when the tents they have been staying in since April were washed away in flash floods.

This has forced the families, many of whom were young children, to seek refuge in a community hall, where they will spend Christmas.

Those impacted have complained of cramped and filthy conditions where families must cohabitate in open spaces.

“As we speak we don’t even have privacy here. You have to bathe in front of men and change your clothes in front of kids who are exposed to this inhumane life,” said Thandi Ngcongo, one of the hall residents.

Sibonelo Mkhize said the tents were better because he had privacy, but now it is no longer the case in the community hall.

“I can’t say I prefer to live in a tent for the rest of my life, but it was better there because I had privacy to some degree.”

Many of the residents blame the provincial government for dragging its feet on placing them in proper houses.

“They have been coming here and making promises to us. People nearly died again this week during the heavy rainfalls that forced us out of our tents. This will definitely be a gloomy Christmas for us,” Mkhize said.

Another resident, Sbusiso Dlamini said: “Politicians come here to take pictures with us and make big promises to advance their agenda and populism.”

Dlamini said there was no politician who would take them out of shelters to proper homes.

The ANC government has been dragged over the coals by opposition parties over the plight of the flood victims.

On Tuesday, the EFF’s provincial leadership, led by its secretary-general Marshall Dlamini visited the victims and donated food parcels for Christmas.

He also urged the victims to take up vacant land.

“We urge you to look at any vacant land and invade it so they could build houses for you,” he said.

This, however, could lead to clashes between the landowners and the victims as happened in areas such as Reservoir Hills in October, when flood victims stormed an unused building.

EThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda recently revealed that R46 million has been set aside for the flood victims.

Other victims have resorted to illegally occupying the unused Transnet building in Montclair.

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