Our Burning Planet


Flood wreaks havoc on Eastern Cape after weekend of torrential rain

Flood wreaks havoc on Eastern Cape after weekend of torrential rain
This picture was posted on the Facebook page of the Ocean View Hotel near Coffee Bay. The bridge linking the hotel to Coffee Bay was washed away over the weekend by floods. (Photo: Facebook)

The body of a six-year-old was recovered on Sunday afternoon while workers are still searching for his mother and his four-year-old sister. Another two boys are missing but presumed drowned after devastating floods ripped through Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast.

Torrential rains have left a path of devastation through the Eastern Cape.

The body of a six-year-old has been recovered, but the child’s mother and four-year-old sister are still missing after devastating floods swept through Coffee Bay on Saturday.

Two boys, aged five and seven, are also presumed drowned after they were washed away while crossing a stream with their mother and sister. Rescue workers are also still looking for a 24-year-old woman from Mapuzi, who was washed away when her house in the village was flooded.

flood havoc coffee bay

Bridges were washed away over the weekend as torrential rain and floods ripped through Coffee Bay and the Hole in the Wall, Eastern Cape. (Photo: Supplied)

flood havoc Port St Johns

A taxi swept away by floods in Port St Johns on 17 February 2023 while trying to cross the bridge to fetch learner’s from a nearby school (Photo: Supplied)


On Sunday, Zimkhita Macingwane, a spokesperson for the OR Tambo multistakeholder Disaster and Risk Management team, said they were still on site to lend support and assess the damage of the flooding.


Still recovering from flooding earlier in February that forced the closure of several businesses, Komani was this weekend again hit by flooding, which claimed the life of a woman who was swept away by the current on Saturday morning. Much of the town was submerged and many roads were closed. Informal settlements, roads, low-lying areas and bridges were severely affected in areas such as Thulandivile, Silvertown and Queen Industria.

flood havoc komani

The bridge in Spring Street in Komani, Eastern Cape, where a woman was swept away by floodwaters in the early hours of Saturday morning. (Photo: Supplied)

flood havoc komani

Komani, Eastern Cape, residents and the rescue teams try to save people stuck in their cars. Two cars were swept away by the floods in the early hours of Saturday. (Photo: Supplied)

Eastern Cape health department spokesperson MK Ndamase said the body of a woman had been recovered on Saturday after she had been swept away by the Komani River in the early hours of Saturday morning. He said her body had been identified by her family.

Areas throughout the district were affected by flooding. More bridges collapsed in the Emalahleni Local Municipality area (around Lady Frere).

Relief efforts

The Gift of the Givers teams were handing out food, blankets, mattresses and hygiene items to families displaced by the floods, said the organisation’s Corene Conradie. She said they were helping people who were staying in shelters, but were also trying to assist those refusing to evacuate their homes.

“We are aware of Coffee Bay and other areas, as soon as funding comes in we will go help there,” she said. She added that they were also rushing to assist a village whose source of drinking water was contaminated by flood waters.

“There are a lot of children who need our help,” Conradie said. “We really need baby items.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Heavy downpours leave a trail of destruction in four local municipalities

On the Cathcart side of Komani, big businesses – Pick n Pay, KFC, Builders Express, McDonald’s, Jacksons Delta, Queens Casino and Hotel and the Queenstown Life Private Hospital – were all flooded.

While McDonald’s, Queens Casino and Hotel and Queenstown Life  Private Hospital were still closed owing to the earlier floods, this weekend’s flooding caused even more damage as water levels were higher.

flood havoc komani

The entrance at Queens Casino was flooded and the hotel had to be closed due to floods in Komani, Eastern Cape on Friday. (Photo: Tembile Sgqolana)

flood havoc komani

Queens Casino’s entertainment area in Komani, Eastern Cape, was flooded on Friday. (Photo: Tembile Sgqolana)

On Saturday, when Daily Maverick visited the businesses, fences from Queens Casino and Hotel and McDonald’s had been swept away and water was still being pumped from the hospital and the casino. Roads, street lights, electricity cables and bridges were all damaged.

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

Chris Hani District Municipality spokesperson Bulelwa Ganyaza said Friday night’s heavy rains in Komani left most crossings submerged.

“Two cars were swept away by the strong current along Owen and Sprigg streets into the Komani River in the early hours of Saturday. Rescue teams managed to save two occupants whilst one was reportedly missing.”

Ganyaza said about 145 people had been moved from their homes to Gali Thembani Special School’s facility.

“Motorists are warned to be extremely cautious as some of the roads are inaccessible. Silvertown, Rhawutini and Thulandivile informal settlements are once more highly affected. The extent of damages and people affected is yet to be determined.” Rescue teams were still busy with evacuation, he said.

Eastern Cape Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane arrived in Komani on Saturday to join the disaster management teams on site.

Midnight floodwaters

flood havoc elliot

Mpumelelo Wisemen Ndunge (52) and his wife Ntombovuyo Ngxito (39) show the damage caused by floods in their collapsed three-room house in Maxongo locality in Elliot, Eastern Cape on 17 February 2023. (Photo:Hoseya Jubase)

flood havoc elliot

Mpumelelo Wisemen Ndunge (52) pointing to the dangerous Eskom box inside their collapsed three-roomed house. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Rhawutini resident Mbulelo Gushu said water started seeping into his house at around midnight while he was asleep:

“I ignored the water, but […] it kept rising, and I had to wake my family of five and got on top of our shack.” Gushu said they stayed on the roof for five hours.

“This time the water was high and strong, and I could not risk moving around with my one-month-old baby,” he said.

“All the work that we did has been undone by the water. I am going back to Gali Thembani and I am not coming back until we get a better place.”

flood havoc komani

Rhawutini residents shacks in Komani were damaged after floods hit the Eastern Cape town. (Photo: Tembile Sgqolana)

Another resident, Neliswa Sikhotha, said she was not going anywhere:

“If we leave our shacks here, the thugs will come and steal what is left of our things. I am leaving this place when we are given plots to build on because the temporary houses may take too long to come to Komani.”

Sikhotha said that when the water arrived, she heard people shouting and thought they were drunk.

“When we got up the water was already above my waist. We then left our houses and went to my child’s place, which is in a higher place. Even there the water got inside but it was better because it was just above our knees.”

She said they stood in the water until the water levels dropped at 5am.

Siyabonga Nkuzo said he was woken by screaming people at around midnight and when he got up he noticed water seeping into his house.

“I woke up and went outside to collect my chickens and placed them on top of my shack. I then took my family and we crossed the road to the higher place where we stayed until the water went down,” he said.

Human settlements MEC Siphokazi Lusithi has promised to build 227 temporary structures for flood victims. DM/OBP

Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Wendy Annecke says:

    Good grief. And this is just the beginning. Climate resilience hahah – how do we get better prepared? There are plans in municipalities but we need teams of public works teams to implement them – space to move people to and a willingness to be moved. Now while everyone is disrupted. Not when they’ve cleaned up and rebuilt their lives. Is there capacity to do this? How can we help other than by donating?

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