Heavy rains, floods wreak havoc in SA

Floods in KwaZulu-Natal had claimed five lives by Wednesday as heavy rains continued to soak large parts of the country.

Scores of people were without shelter after their homes were flooded.

Others were evacuated after flood warnings were issued for various areas.

Paramedics said two children drowned on Wednesday in the flooding of the Gola River in the Folweni area of KwaZulu-Natal.

Earlier, three people died in Ladysmith floods where the heavy downpours cut off roads, uprooted trees, damaged bridges and marooned farms.

Cars were also damaged and shacks swept away.

The town of Bergville in KwaZulu-Natal was without water after its pump systems broke down due to flooding.

Provincial spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said engineers were working on the problem.

Warnings that other parts of the country could suffer a similar fate were issued by the national department of water affairs.

“Communities residing near the four major dams should exercise extreme caution,” spokesperson Linda Page said.

These dams included the Vaal, Bloemhof, Gariep and Vanderkloof.

Affected areas included Moretele, Hammanskraal, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Mamelodi, Nkandla, Nquthu, Winburg, Senekal, and parts of Mpumalanga.

More than 800 houses across KwaZulu-Natal have been affected by the floods.

“The current persisting rain has affected at least 829 households all over the province during the past three days,” KwaZulu-Natal local government minister Nomusa Dube said.

She warned that people living on the riverbanks of the Klip River in Ladysmith would be evacuated and the houses demolished.

“Lots of houses were damaged, especially in Driefontein. In one situation the house fell on one woman and she was lucky to survive,” Dube said

It started raining in the Ladysmith area on December 31 and resulted in one person being killed in Roosboom.

The two other people died while trying to cross a stream in Ladysmith on Tuesday.

Hard hit
Tshwane in Gauteng was also hard hit by heavy rains.

Pretoria’s community safety spokesperson, William Baloyi, said several informal settlements in Mamelodi were affected and 8 469 shacks had been flooded.

“We are still assessing the worst cases [as] the bigger part of the area is inaccessible by vehicles.”

Baloyi described flooding in the affected areas as serious and said people needed to be evacuated.

“We are trying to move them into churches and available halls.”

He said a help centre had been set up in Stanza Bopape hall.

The rains have also added pressure on the country’s infrastructure, including dams.

Senior weather forecaster at the South African Weather Service Tshepo Ngobeni said 80% chances of rain were forecast in the south-west of Limpopo and Mpumalanga on Thursday. There was a 60% chance of thundershowers in Gauteng and some parts of the Free State.

“Our outlook shows that the rain will ease by Sunday in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Free State,” said Ngobeni.

“What that means is that there will be normal thundershowers in the afternoon and in the evening.” — Sapa

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