Residents blame local authorities for Kimberley floods

| Douglas Mthukwane
Tlhageng residents protest over flooding after a retention dam overflowed. They claim this was avoidable if local authorities had taken heed of previous storms. Picture by Douglas Mthukwane.

A violent rain storm that hit Kimberley on Tuesday has set flooded residents on a collision course with the local authorities.

On Wednesday, scores of angry Tlhageng residents in Galeshewe barricaded roads amid a heavy police presence, demanding assurances from the local municipality.

The storm uprooted trees and the floors of several homes. Local businesses and the North Cape Mall were also flooded. The cloud burst is said to have deposited 100mm of rain in less than an hour.

Hardest hit was Tlhageng, a middle class residential area built in 1998, a stone’s throw away from the Northern Cape Provincial legislature. A water retention dam overflowed flooding homes and cars. Electricity has been off since Tuesday. The multi-purpose Mayibuye Centre, opened in 2008, was also damaged.

Andries Monoketsi, whose house was flooded, said that he spent the night like “a wrecked ship at sea”.

“All of my valuables were damaged; I blame the municipality for poor disaster management plans,” he said.

He was echoed by community leader Mangaliso Mcetywa, who told the mayor that “this was a human disaster which the municipality should have avoided”.

“This is not the first, although it is the worst disaster; this is the fifth one since 2009, and nothing was done about drainage facilities and the [Kagisho] dam itself,” he said.

But Sol Plaatje Executive Mayor Alderman David Molusi said, “This is a natural disaster and no-one must be blamed.”

“We spent the whole day in the control room responding to calls by irate residents … We have prioritized Tlhageng as it is the worst hit. We asked our technical teams and EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme) workers to clean [up] the mess in people’s homes, including attending to the water retention dam.”

“We have assessed the damages as the municipality and will engage the Premier and other role players, like the department of social services, for blankets, food and accommodation at the RC Elliot Hall … We understand that people are upset, but we ask for calm,” he said.

Insurance broker Jacques Muller said that damages to one of his clients amounted to over R180,000: R100,000 for the house and R80,000 for the assets.

Police Spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said there were no criminal cases reported following the storm.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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