By 09 December 2022, the heavy rains from the previous night caused major flooding that destroyed a lot of infrastructure in some parts of Johannesburg. There were particularly big damages for the residents of Mandela Square, Tamati vlei and Emva-kwe-sporo [“Beyond the railway”] in Kliptown, Klipspruit West ext. 2, and Soweto. At least two of the areas are next to a stream which increased the damage to the properties of the residents.
The areas mentioned are prone to damage by flooding but this time around not only were people’s homes damaged but some people almost lost children. The children who are siblings, swept away by the current, could not be immediately rescued by the fire brigades and the rescue team that came to assist.
According to witnesses at the scene, before the police came, two children went out to see the stream which was overflowing. Apparently, the children were too close to the water, one fell into the stream while trying to pull the other one out. Both were swept by the strong current. A witness said that they could not be rescued because the water was flowing very fast. At the time, the mother of the children was devastated and worried she could not comment.
“We looked from where they slipped in and other places where the stream was flowing but couldn’t find them. We did not stop looking for them, because they were not the only ones that were declared missing,” said Lerato Ledwaba from the rescue team.
According to some residents from Kliptown, ext. 10, they saw a hand around their area. The helicopter working with the rescue team was following the hand but lost it along the stream’s strong current.
There were also paramedics, police, and firefighters present to assist the residents. According to constable Mokomo, the station received a call from a motorist who needed assistance because he was stuck in the water at the bridge separating Kliptown and Klipspruit West. The police were there from 05:00 on Friday morning.
Residents from Mandela Square and Tamati vlei were in distress because they had nowhere to go. Most of them are residing in shacks about fifty feet away from the stream. They said that this time they do not know how will they recover because the damage on this occasion was severe. Others tried to pour water out of their houses using buckets to dump it in the street. Because of the rain some residents have no electrical connection, “It’s really [hard] for me because I was depending on illegal electric connection because I can’t afford electricity,” said Ntate Thato from Tamati vlei.
One lady from Mandela Square who sits on a wheel and resides alone is more concerned about how is she going to get the water out of her house as she is not able to on her own. She also said that she does not mind paying someone to help her but does not have enough money to hire someone.
Residents of Klipspruit West ext. 2, whose houses are not far from the stream, had their houses basically filled with water. Adam whose house was also flooded said the water was too much but at least no snakes were detected as was the case last time there was flooding.
The ward councilor, Dwain Ponsonby, said there is not enough space to place the people who had been affected but those who were badly affected would be placed at the community centre for the meanwhile until a place is found for them. He said they would be assisted with only essential needs such as clothing, documents, and food.
According to a resident from Protea Glen, Soweto was also being affected badly. The positive bit was the rescue of five children from a slab. The children were clever enough to wait on a high-standing slab. Children were found near the Nancefield train station but still needed to be identified at the time.
In Kliptown two elderly people were rescued and were checked by paramedics for any injuries. Mokomo said that they will look until they find the boys that were declared missing.
*The children were since found
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