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Sitting on a ‘time bomb’ – Kliptown residents ‘scream for their lives’ as floods wash away cars, surge through homes

Sitting on a ‘time bomb’ – Kliptown residents ‘scream for their lives’ as floods wash away cars, surge through homes
Severe flooding in Kliptown, Soweto started early in the morning, affecting the shack community as Klip River washed a taxi and a car from Tsoene Rd. (Photo: Supplied by Kristen Kornienko)

Residents in parts of Johannesburg affected by floods fear for their lives following thunderstorms that left infrastructure, cars and people’s homes damaged in the early hours of Friday.

‘It’s like we are sitting on a ticking time bomb,” said Kliptown, Soweto resident Kwenza Mjoli who, at about 6am, saw a taxi and a car being washed away at a bridge between the Kliptown informal settlement and Dlamini township.   

“It was terrible. I’ve seen floods before but this was something else, it was terrible, to see and hear people screaming for their lives like that and you can’t help, was something else,” said Mjoli. 

Although he lives slightly further away from the bridge, Mjoli said they did not feel safe. “We are definitely scared, anything can happen.”

Severe flooding in Kliptown left massive damage in its wake. (Photo: Supplied by Kristen Kornienko)

Floodwater surges through homes. (Photo: Supplied by Kristen Kornienko)

The water coming from the bridge runs just metres from shacks. Some told Daily Maverick they wished to leave but had no financial means.  

“We are unemployed, we have children, we have nowhere to go,” said a young mother of three who asked not to be named.  

A pregnant woman, Alexis Miller, who narrowly escaped from the car that got washed away, said she was in disbelief as everything had happened in the blink of an eye.   

The incident, she said, happened as she, her husband and daughter were driving from an overnight farewell party. 

The M70 (Soweto Freeway) was closed in Mzimhlophe due to heavy flooding on Friday. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

“It’s unbelievable, it was her farewell (and) instead of being happy, she’s traumatised. She keeps on saying, yhoo Mommy, we could have died.

“It feels surreal, almost like a movie, as if I am drunk yet I have not consumed any alcoholic drink,” said Miller.   

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A similar incident, in which another car was washed away, occurred in Florida. Residents said it happened much earlier, at about 2am during a severe storm. 

When Daily Maverick visited the scene, roads with visible cracks had been blocked, a car washed away to the side of the road as a number of zama zamas passed. The car had been stripped of its parts. 

Read in Daily Maverick: “KZN flood victims’ fates were sealed years ago

The flooding also saw a number of transport services suspended, including Rea Vaya buses and trains operated by Prasa. In a short statement, Rea Vaya said could not confirm when operations would resume. “The JRA is busy assessing the safety of the roads to operate. Preliminary suggestions indicate that all our major  roads are affected, and therefore operations are still suspended.”  

The flooded M70 in Soweto. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

South African Weather Service forecaster Ishmael Moyo said there was a 60% chance of rainy conditions, particularly showers and thunderstorms, in the city in the afternoon and throughout the weekend. 

As rain persists in parts of Johannesburg, Moyo warned that people should stay away from flooded low-lying areas, and if possible, remain indoors.  

Kliptown community leader and resident Thabang Nkwanyana said the water had surged through homes so there was now a desperate need for emergency aid.

Floods caused havoc across the Orlando informal settlement. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

A flooded road at the corner of Park Road and Cross Street on 5 December 2022. (Photo: Gallo Images / Beeld / Deaan Vivier)

Mtipa Street in Orlando West was closed due to heavy flooding on Friday. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

The incidents come days after the 14 bodies of Johane Masowe churchgoers from Alexandra were retrieved from the Jukskei River after a baptism ritual was hit by a flash flood at the weekend. 

City of Johannesburg Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Xolile Khumalo could not be reached for comment by the time of publishing. DM


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