They got boats after the 2020 floods, now the Joburg South community is picking up the pieces again

Zarina Motala and her family had to evacuate using a boat.

Zarina Motala and her family had to evacuate using a boat.

This time of the year, most people are thinking about the holidays.

They are planning their travels, their menus for Christmas and wondering when they will be shutting down from work.

It’s normally the season to be jolly. But not for the community in Mosquito Valley, Lenasia Ext1 Peacock Avenue.

Their homes are flooded and they have not only had to move out of their houses, but they’ve also lost valuable assets and they are trying to find solutions to get the mud out of their homes.

The homeowners are currently living with family members. Their houses are close to a wetland and often flood during heavy rain.

Resident Zarina Motala says the rain started last Thursday in the afternoon and the area started flooding seriously around 6am the next day.

She says they are always on the lookout when there is rain because theire homes have been flooded before, so when it rains for a few days, they always have to check the levels of water.

“Between 3am and 5am the water was still fine because my neighbour has a strong water drain and if the water doesn’t go through there, we know that we must remove the cars and do what we need to do to be on the safe side,” says Zarina.

“However, around 6am my neighbour called to inform me that we are underwater, and I thought let’s get out of the car.

“By the time we went out, there was no way we could move our cars. Then we had loadshedding, when the electricity came back around 8am and by 9am the water inside the house was at knee level.”

As she stood inside her house, it felt like a drain had burst inside and the water flowed in waves and there was nothing they could do.

“We live across the wetland and the Klipriver runs through that wetland.

“We bought a boat when we experienced the floods in 2020, so as the water rose my son used the boat to leave the house and went somewhere to work. Between 9am and 10am, we were completely flooded.

“The community patrolling forum and patrols called in for assistance because the water was just above our heads. Everybody had to evacuate, we didn’t think it could happen so fast,” she says.

She says people have lived in the area for 56 years and they have been asking the City of Joburg to ensure that the river flows so that the water doesn’t rise.

“We know this is a national disaster but as a community, we have been complaining for years even on 16 and 17 December 2010 and 2020, we lost our cars in the floods and now we are left with nothing,” she tells Drum.

“Our appliances are damaged, the low cupboard is filled with mud and there is sewer spillage. We are trying to deal with this, we have domestic workers who have done their shopping already and all the groceries are underwater.

“Fridges are destroyed, they were floating in the house, and we threw away meat and food. We just threw out all the essentials that you can think of.”

The dishes are filled with mud, the cupboard is falling apart, appliances are not working, the furniture is ruined, and they watched the fridges float in the house.

They lost their paperwork, IDs, and other documents and they must get some clothes because they currently do not have clothes.

This is all devastating.

Zarina says they aren’t even thinking of the holidays right now. She says some people wanted to leave for the week and with the floods ruining everything, they are trying to salvage what can.

“Normally people are looking forward to this time of the year but now we are all displaced. We are going through the same emotion for the last week that we had because everyone has worked for a lifetime to get where we are.

“It is just a distraction, we are currently living in mud, and we can’t spend time in our houses, we are trying to clean up, but we do not have the equipment so we a looking to hire a company to clean.

“We are living with my daughter, everyone had to find accommodation and we want to move because we can’t stay here

She says the hurtful part is no one from the government has come and helped even during this tough time as a community they are coming together and trying to find the solution on their own.

“Our ward councillor Nokuthula Nofemela came to see the damage caused by the flood, but this is a national problem. Our leaders need to see what happened to us since have been complaining about the drainage system in the area.”

The ward councillor Nokuthula Nofemela says after struggling the whole year with communicating with Environment and Infrastructure Services (EISD) and Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA), they are seeing floods that are described as the worst of all floods in the area, and this is the worst they’ve ever had.

“I have been fighting a losing battle with getting the stagnant water challenge attended to by the City of Johannesburg officials. JRA and EISD have not come to advise on how or when the issue will be resolved,” says Nokuthula.

“I am grateful to City Power for stepping up and being part of the solution when the residents were without power after the substation exploded due to the flooding.

“I am happy that a generator has been provided to assist the residents even though others are still off due to a cable theft which will be attended to.”

Nokuthula says she also wants to thank the community for the spirit of ubuntu, support, and understanding during this period

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