Where are our ward councillors? ask flood victims

Shacks flooded by heavy rains in Khayelitsha

By Vincent Lali

2 July 2021

Photo of a woman bailing water in her home with a bucket

“I scooped the water with buckets, but it kept on flowing into my shack until I gave up,” says Sisipo Gqomorho of Zone 14, Green Point, Khayelitsha. Photos: Vincent Lali

After four days of nearly continuous rain in Cape Town, dozens of homes were flooded in Khayelitsha.

On Thursday, desperate residents from Pandemic Square, a recently formed informal settlement next to Ntalazane Street, searched unsuccessfully for ward 97 Councillor Reynold Simbeku (ANC) to help them.

“We looked for our ward councillor at Solomon Mahlangu Community Hall to tell him about our flooded shacks,” says flood victim Nolubabalo Mkhetshana. “We want help because we don’t have a place to sleep as our shacks are engulfed in water. We can’t even enter our shacks.”

Mkhetshana said the heavy rains had drenched their belongings, including their groceries and school books.

Simbeku told GroundUp, “I didn’t know that the informal settlement is part of my ward. I will verify if the informal settlement is part of my ward and ask the City of Cape Town to assist the land occupiers.”

Pandemic Square informal settlement next to Ntlazane Street in Khayelitsha was flooded.

“We have not seen our ward [93] councillor or City officials since the heavy rains started to flood our shacks. They must come and assist us,” said Sisipo Gqomorho of Zone 14, Green Point, Khayelitsha.

“Uninhabitable” is how she describes her shack. It has been under water since Monday night and she is now staying with a friend.

With most of her furniture drenched and damaged, she put her bed and fridge on crates above the water.

“Some residents have dismantled their homes … Others have left their shacks standing in water,” she says.

Gqomorho says the water comes from a nearby dam. “The City of Cape Town used to cut the reeds to prevent them from retaining water, but it can’t do so now because the land occupiers built shacks next to the dam,” she says.

“I and other residents want to be relocated somewhere dry. If we continue to stay here, the City must remove the water from the nearby dam,” says Gqomorho.

Ward 93 Councillor Thando Pimipi (ANC) told GroudUp that he had put on his gumboots and went down to zone 14 to show City officials the situation on Wednesday. He said he is arranging for municipal vehicles to remove the water from the dam. He said some shacks will have to be removed to clear the way.

Nosimo Sobethwa scoops water and pours it into a tin bath in her shack in Zone 14, Green Point on Thursday.

Nosimo Sobethwa, also affected by the dam in zone 14, said she carried her grandmother, who is deaf and unable to speak or walk, to a dry sofa.

“I used buckets to scoop the water out of my shack until midday Tuesday, when I got exhausted,” she says.

Her stove, clothes and belongings have been standing in water for days. But she, her husband and their three-year-old daughter have “no other option” but to sleep in the flooded shack.

Former ward councillor Amos Komeni said the shack dwellers had settled in Zone 14 almost 20 years ago.