Our Burning Planet


‘It was scary,’ say residents as the Eastern Cape is lashed by yet more rain

‘It was scary,’ say residents as the Eastern Cape is lashed by yet more rain
The link road between Kei Mouth and Morgan Bay in the Eastern Cape has been closed following heavy rains on Thursday 23 March 2023. Photo: Supplied

Three people are still missing after heavy rains caused flooding in Lusikisiki on Thursday.

Three people have been reported missing in Rhole village in Lusikisiki after heavy rains hit parts of the Eastern Cape on Thursday, damaging bridges and roads.

Mnquma, Mbashe, King Sabata Dalindyebo, Nyandeni, Port St Johns, Ingquza Hill and Mbizana municipal areas in OR Tambo District Municipality were all affected.

Municipality spokesperson Zimkhita Macingwana said the disaster and risk management teams from Ingquza Hill had been sent to Rhole village to gather more information that might help in the search for the missing people.

“This follows reports that three members of the community are missing after the heavy rains. The heavy downpours have left many areas of the district devastated, as infrastructure, houses, recreational facilities and businesses have been flooded,” she said.

Macingwana said flooding in Port St Johns had caused a power outage that had affected telecommunications networks as well the Mzimvumbu and Port St Johns water treatment works. 

“This has led to the water and sanitation treatment plants in the area to be down since yesterday. The OR Tambo infrastructure, water and sanitation directorate is still investigating the extent of the damages,” Macingwana said.

She said a section of the R61 road near Isinuka had been washed away.  

“The situation is closely monitored by our teams,” she said.

Macingwana said the district municipality had dispatched risk management teams to the affected areas after receiving reports of  several roads being washed away and houses and shops being submerged in water.

“A handful of people who have their houses submerged in water have been accommodated at the Port St Johns Youth Centre and were provided with blankets and mattresses,” Macingwana said.

Port St Johns resident Sonwabo Khangela said the situation was “bad”.

“These floods were worse than the ones we used to have, and it was scary. When the rain started on Thursday you wouldn’t think it would cause such damage,” he said.

Khangela said bridges in Port St Johns had been damaged.

“The bridge to Isilimela Hospital in Nkwili is damaged,” he said.

The Eastern Cape department of transport spokesperson Unathi Bhinqose, said the department and Sanral, both custodians of the R61 near Port St Johns, had sent engineers to assess the damage and to determine what needed to be done.

“However, as things stand now, only one lane is operational on the spot where the mudslide happened,” he said.

Bhinqose urged road users and motorists to be extra careful and follow instructions from law enforcement officers who were on the scene.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) spokesperson Legadima Leso said continuing rainfall across parts of the country was endangering the lives of communities.

“Based on the reports and the weather forecast for the next couple of days as issued by the South African Weather Service, COGTA Minister Thembisile Nkadimeng called on all sectors to mobilise assistance and resources so as to be able to respond adequately,” he said.

“The minister has directed the National Disaster Management Centre to remain in contact with the provincial and district disaster management centres. Disaster management teams from across all spheres of government will continue to be on standby to provide assistance where required as well as to ensure coordinated response as swiftly as possible to limit the negative impact of the floods on our communities,” he said. DM/OBP

Absa OBP

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