Rain ravages Onderberg

The submerged Crocodile River Bridge at Komatipoort.

MALALANE – Tuesday night’s heavy rain has left many people in distress, bridges overflowing and houses flooded.

Areas which were severely damaged by the storm included Mzinti, Schoemansdal, Tonga, Langeloop, Dludluma, Mangeni, and parts of the Kruger National Park.

Seven bridges were closed due to overflowing water and two were washed away.

One of them, which was the point of entry to Dludluma was swept away, leaving residents stranded, and it was impossible to go in or out. School was disturbed in Driekoppies as the Mlumati Bridge had to be closed.

Spokesman for the municipality, Mr Cyril Ripinga said they were urgently attending to most of the severely affected areas and that bridges which had been closed, would remain so until the level had subsided.

“A number of overflowing bridges have been closed off, and we will monitor the level until it subsides.

“As of yet we have not received any reports of fatalities.

“So far we have received accounts of overflowing bridges, flooded houses, and washed-away bridges. Several areas have been severely flooded.

“Orlando in Komatipoort is one of them, and water flooded people’s houses,” said Ripinga.

They would evaluate the extent of the damage and from there decide whether they should involve disaster management. According to Ripinga, water supply would be affected because most treatment plants had been flooded.

Those of Tonga, Hectorspruit, Sibange, and Block C treatment have all been temporarily shut down.

Meanwhile, Orlando residents said they had had enough of the lack of infrastructure in their community. They vented their frustration by protesting during the flooding of their homes.

“Every year our community is left underwater, this is nothing new to the people here. Every year the municipality brings us food parcels, but that is not what we need.

We need dry blankets and proper infrastructure, this is the only solution.

This community will no longer stand for this,” said Ms Phindile Ndzangu, an Orlando resident.

According to Mr Steven Mazmbela, the community leader in the area, the people were tired of having to replace their property. He explained, “Most of the houses in the settlement are underwater. This means all these people have lost valuable property such as paperwork, IDs and furniture, and all their clothes and bedding are wet.

None of the children will attend school, most of the people won’t be able to go to work.

This is a huge problem, but it is one that is known to the municipality. It is aware of the struggles we face every year but it does nothing to prevent this from happening.”

Responding to questions posed by Corridor Gazette, Ripinga said, “There is a stream and farm dam above this settlement. When it rains the dam overflows into this stream and this affects them, we can not control the rain. As for the budget for the area’s infrastructure, I am not aware of that.”

At the time of going to press no fatalities were known to the police and municipal officials.

Magdel van den Berg and Daluxolo Sibiya

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