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Anger, terror as shanties flood

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“Besides our shanties, the ditches also fill up with water and we fear for our children’s safety. In fact a child did fall into one of the ditches and had to be rescued.”

The homes of several residents living near the stormwater drains at the Maroela shanties were flooded and their possessions damaged during the rainfall on Saturday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

WHILE many city residents welcomed the rain which fell recently, hundreds of Greenpoint residents were not so enthusiastic.

Many of them lost most of their possessions when their shanties were flooded.

One terrified old woman had to be carried out of her flooded shanty on the back of a young man.

Mieta Visagie, who is in her 60s, is cripple. In a state of shock and barely able to speak, Visagie said she was “absolutely petrified” when her shanty started filling up with water.

“I was sitting in my shanty when the rain started. I started thinking what am I going to do if it fills up with water? I can barely walk. I was absolutely petrified.

“If it wasn’t for Great Swanepoel who carried me out on his back, I don’t even want to think of the consequences,” she said.

Dozens of residents living in Lemonwood Street and in the Thompson shanties could barely contain their anger after the flooding and started blockading the streets and threatening to burn tyres.

“We go through this every time it rains,” one resident, Joyce Lingbrooks, said. “Where is our ward councillor now? We have raised the issue of flooding many, many times even before Norman Maditse took over (as ward councillor) and nothing has been done.

“Besides our shanties, the ditches also fill up with water and we fear for our children’s safety. In fact a child did fall into one of the ditches and had to be rescued.”

Maditse indicated yesterday that it wasn’t a case of him just ignoring the plight of the people.

“I attended a one-day election course at the Horseshoe Motel with our national (DA) leaders. I only received a call at around 7.30pm last night (Saturday). We had just completed the course. It was then difficult to get out to them due to the flooded roads,” he said.

Another resident pointed out that by now some contingency plan should have been put in place.

“This is not the first time and it will also not be the last time that we lose everything when it rains like it did. Every time we report the matter and ask for assistance we get promised that something will be done about it. Obviously the authorities, the municipality and our ward councillor are not taking us seriously.

“At some point, someone needs to take responsibility. We can’t continue like this year after year.”

Maditse said that he has been raising the issue every time the shanties are flooded. “I have submitted numerous reports to not only the current Sol Plaatje mayor but to his predecessors as well. It is definitely not a case of me ignoring the plight of the residents.”

Sol Plaatje municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie said yesterday that the local authority was aware of the situation in Greenpoint.

“The city’s drainage system is designed for “normal” rain but not for the sudden downpour of yesterday (Saturday).

“Although we welcome the rain, it is difficult to manage the situation when such heavy rain falls.”

Matsie said that residents could assist by not throwing rubbish into the canals as this hampers the drainage system.

“When heavy rain falls, this rubbish blocks the flow of water. We are therefore urging residents not to just dump their rubbish in the canals as well as to refrain from building shanties in the direct flooding line.”

He added that emergency services would assess the situation and that help would be provided to the residents.