Vlei residents call for help

The owner of this shack had to seek refuge at the home of relatives as it became surrounded by water.

Residents of the Vlei informal settlement near Philippi are among those enduring a nightmare as heavy rains continue to batter Cape Town.

While some struggle to mop up flooded homes, others have been forced to seek refuge at the homes of relatives.

When Vukani visited Vlei last Sunday, many residents were trying to dry their belongings by taking them outside.

They said winter is always stressful because the rains damage their homes and the poor living conditions make them sick.

Some people were forced to abandon their shacks as they could not get inside due to the informal settlement being flooded.

In a desperate attempt to soak up some water, some residents were piling sand inside and outside their homes to create a barrier.

Resident Nosiphe Mbongisa, said she had been living in the area for more than 10 years and every season they are faced with the same challenge.

When Vukani found Ms Mbongisa, she was mopping water from her shack, which she said was cold and damp and putting their health at risk.

Another resident, Brenda Bendile said many families have opted to send their children to their relatives because the environment is not conducive for them to live in. She said if she had the means she would buy a decent house and leave the area.

She said some of the reasons why they are still there is to safeguard their belongings and because not every relative has space to accommodate an extra family.

She said many residents in the area were unemployed and yet they were the main providers in their homes.

“We were hoping that City officials would visit our communities to see the state of our living conditions. Winter is a huge problem for us because it makes our lives extremely difficult.

“Everyday we have to clean water from our homes. I mean there is no way that we cannot catch flu. We must always have heaters because it is cold in these shacks due to this water. Bhuti, if I had another place to stay, I would grab that opportunity with both hands.

“Honestly, this is not a place human beings can call home,” she said.

Ms Bendile said residents feel cursed because they do not hear any word of development plans.

She said they were pleading with the government to find them a better place to stay. She said they have never received any help and even a donation of food or blankets would be appreciated.

Charlotte Powell, spokesperson for Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC), said: “Work to alleviate the impacts of the adverse weather has been ongoing since the first cold front made landfall earlier this month.

“The DRMC will monitor the situation based on the weather warnings received from the SA Weather office and will liaise with various City departments and other role players to assist residents in need.”

She said officials are busy with assessments in affected areas and mopping up operations are ongoing.

This home had to be emptied after extensive water damage.