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REMARKS BY MEC HLOMUKA DURING MEDIA BRIEFING BY MINISTER DLAMINI-ZUMA ON TROPICAL STORM ELOISE

Hon. Minister for Cogta, Dr Dlamini-Zuma;

Hon. MEC for Cogta in Limpompo;

Hon. MEC for Cogta in Mpumalanga;

Members of the media

We would first like thank the Minister for convening this important briefing for us to update the nation on our response as a province to the heavy downpours we experienced the 24th and 25th of January as a result of the Tropical Cyclone Eloise.

Early warning

In our province three Districts were identified by the South African Weather Service as the areas that will likely experience severe weather conditions as a result of the storm brought by the Cyclone. These were the uMkhanyakude district where the highest level of risk was assigned in areas such as Big Five-Hlabisa, Jozini, Mtubatuba and uMhlabuyalinga local municipalities.

The weather reports indicated also indicated that parts of the King Cetshwayo and Zululand districts were also expected to receive heavy rains although to a lesser extent.

Immediately upon receiving the alert, our Provincial Disaster Management Centre convened its daily JOC meetings with the identified municipalities and other stakeholders where concrete plans were put into place to prepare for an effective emergency response.

As a result of the early coordination facilitated by our department an extensive awareness programme was embarked upon in these areas, with loud hailing to warn communities in areas that are considered high risk. This was coupled with intensive engagements with our community radio stations where residents were warned about the negative impact of the expected storms.

We also promptly engaged with our amakhosi and their Traditional Councils, as well as with all affected Ward Committees, Councillors and Community Development Workers in all target areas to spread the message.

Our message was very simple:

  • We called on those residing in low-lying areas or near rivers to seek higher ground;
  • We called for vigilance from community members and we urged them to follow all updates regarding the weather on the news; and
  • We urged communities to obey instructions from their local disaster management officials should they require households in their areas to evacuate to safety

In all of these efforts, our main aim was to protect human life.

IMPACT OF THE INCLEMENT WEATHER CONDITIONS

Our province has a history of disasters in which many lives are routinely lost. It is for this reason that we could not take the warnings we received from the South African Weather Service lightly.

As part of our disaster response plan, we engaged with our sister departments regarding emergency plans should the need arise to render disaster relief if and when there are people who are displaced by the inclement weather conditions.

When the heavy rains began on Sunday, we were hoping that our province would be spared any major calamity.

SCOPE OF THE DAMAGE

MKHANYAKUDE DISTRICT:

On the 24th and 25th of January 2021, Jozini Local Municipality experienced heavy rainfall and flooding incidents that affected almost all wards. Our latest information indicates that so far a total number of two hundred and eighty (280) households and nine hundred and sixteen (916) people. There were approximately one hundred and seventy-five (175) completely destroyed houses and one hundred and ten (110) partial destroyed houses. This devastation left thirty-five (35) families homeless however it was fortunate that there were no injuries or fatalities reported.

Interim relief is being provided to the affected families in the form of blankets, tents, sponges and mattresses, food parcels and temporary shelters for displaced families.

 

A number of local access roads were flooded and blocked off as a result of the heavy rains in the Mkhanyakude district. These roads are D1836, D1834, D1830, D9 and P44. The Department of Transport has allocated additional resources which will be used to clear up some of these roads and re-gravel them in due course.

 

ZULULAND DISTRICT

 

ABAQULUSI

We received said news of a fatality in this municipality. A 14-year-old boy drowned yesterday in KwaShoba, in Ward 13 of Abaqulusi. The details are still sketchy as this incident took place late yesterday. We express our condolences to the affected family. Our teams are providing support to them.

On Sunday heavy rainfall also led to a structural collapse incident where one (01) household in ward 13, Esilweni area, as a result two (02) boys were injured and taken to hospital and they have both been discharged. Relief is being provided to the affected family.

 

UPHONGOLO

On the 24th of January 2021, the uPhongolo Local Municipality experienced heavy rainfall and flooding incidents which affected a total number of twelve (12) households in ward 8, ward 9, ward 10 and ward 13. There were seven (07) completely destroyed houses in ward 7, ward 8 and ward 9. There were six (06) partially destroyed houses in ward 02 and ward 10. There were no injuries or fatalities reported.

Caution needed as more rains are expected

Hon Minister we strongly believe that our early warning from the South African Weather Service and the work done by our disaster management teams and other stakeholders assisted us to limit the risk of loss of life.

Our teams are still cautious as more rains are expected in the course of the week according to the South African Weather Service.

We continue to monitor the situation on the ground as conditions are expected to become potentially more dangerous as the ground is already saturated with excess water from the rains.

We continue to appeal to our communities to abide by the instructions of their local disaster management officials. We cannot understate the importance of this.

Conclusion

We continue to ensure that all sector departments are on board in line with the multi-sectoral response plan that has been adopted and that all of them are on standby to offer the required support pre-, during and post-disaster. We must also re-iterate that all our stakeholders are duly participating in the JOCs, including all our OSS Champions in line with our District Development Model approach.

We are confident that working together we can minimise the impact of Eloise on the ground, save human lives and safeguard both public infrastructure and private property.

I thank you!