Some victims of the 2019 floods in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, say they will not be voting in the upcoming local government elections. This comes as they wait to be relocated to a safer area as promised by the Tshwane Metro Municipality.
More than 800 families were displaced in the Eerste Fabrieke informal settlement on the banks of the Moretele River almost two years ago. The floods disrupted the lives of hundreds of families, leaving many homeless.
Those who were temporarily sheltered at the local church and hall were lucky enough to be relocated to nearby Mooiplats. But the remaining 600 families are still waiting in vain for their turn.
Fears of history repeating itself are also mounting as the summer rains approach. Sinah Majane and her 16-year-old son were among those forced to start over after all their belongings were swept away.
“It’s scary because every time it starts to rain at night we worry. We have a WhatsApp group and those with houses in the danger zone will be telling us there’s water in their homes. So, we have to wake up and go assist them and see what we can do.”
Her neighbours are equally frustrated.
“ I live with kids here. Since our homes were swept away, they promised to come to get us but they haven’t. Now they want our votes, you expect us to vote without assisting? Our shacks are damaged, we lost our belongings. They only relocated a few, what’s really happening?” says one of the neighbours.
The floods claimed a life:
A relocation committee established by the community is accusing the City of Tshwane of dishonesty, as it keeps backtracking on the relocation date. It says it is tired of attending weekly meetings with the municipality without any results.
The second phase of the relocation was supposed to have started in July.
“They are playing a political game here because as you can check, the city is now under a coalition government. It is run by three main parties. Sometimes the DA is coming and telling us they’re relocating us, sometimes it’s the EFF. According to us it’s just a political game, they are playing a political game and we are waiting for them on the 1st of November,” says committee member December Matlala.
There are 210 informal settlements across the City of Tshwane with a population of 500 000. 27 of them are in Mamelodi, established along the Moretele River.
The city has so far relocated only 600 people from various settlements in Mamelodi to Mooiplats. It says the next phase will commence once land has been acquired and properly prepared for allocation.
“There is a great deal of contextual background that needs to be considered on this matter. Indeed this relocation process has been a challenge for the city. However, we remain committed to ensuring that all residents that have been identified for relocation during phase 2B are relocated once the land has been acquitted and properly prepared for allocation,” says spokesperson Sipho Stuurman.
With the municipality not committing to a date, the residents live in hope that this season’s summer rains will have mercy on them.