PHOTO ESSAY | Much needed Cape rain floods homes

Vincent Lali visited VT Section in Site B‚ Khayelitsha and met residents who were battling to stay dry and warm

27 April 2018 - 15:59 By Vincent Lali
Nosunset Tshemese tries to remove water from her shack.
Nosunset Tshemese tries to remove water from her shack.
Image: Vincent Lali

Cape Town desperately needs rain‚ and the past week’s downpours have helped alleviate the nearly four-year drought.

But for people living in informal settlements‚ rain often means flooding.

Nosunset Tshemese said she was woken by the rain at about 2am on Thursday. “I noticed that there was water everywhere inside my shack. I couldn’t sleep afterwards as I had to empty buckets filled with water‚” she said.

She said her mattress has been dripping wet since Tuesday night’s heavy rain. “Rains have been keeping us busy and wet since Tuesday night‚ so we had a mop and empty containers handy‚” she said. “Now I share one bed with three kids.”

Tshemese said they had a good laugh about the floods: “My kids jokingly said it is better to stay under a bridge than in this shack because a bridge has no leaks‚ and we laughed.”

Nomishini Mone said she put big dishes and a washing basin on her bed to catch leaks throughout Thursday morning.
Nomishini Mone said she put big dishes and a washing basin on her bed to catch leaks throughout Thursday morning.
Image: Vincent Lali

Nomishini Mone said she put big dishes and a washing basin on her bed to catch leaks throughout Thursday morning.

“I could not sleep last night as I had to throw away water each time the containers got full. Floods have been giving us hell since Tuesday night when the rains started‚” she said.

Bulelwa Magadu.
Bulelwa Magadu.
Image: Vincent Lali

Bulelwa Magadu said the rain leaked through her corrugated iron shack. “I became stressed-out when I noticed that a large amount of water had invaded my shack‚” she said. “I frantically looked for containers and a washing basin‚ scooped the water from the floor and tossed it out of the shack. I used one blanket to absorb the water off the floor and wrung it outside.”

She hopes the City of Cape Town will give her blankets and plastic to cover the roof of her shack. Magadu works as a janitor in the informal settlement.

Nomaphelo Khephe
Nomaphelo Khephe
Image: Vincent Lali

Nomaphelo Khephe said that at about 2am on Thursday morning she was lying in bed. “I stretched my legs and felt that my blankets were wet around my feet‚” she said.

She then fought a losing battle to dry her shack‚ she said. “I mopped the floor but the water kept on flowing down the wall.”

“I want the City to give me building materials to fix my shack. I live off a grant and my kid’s grant and I don’t work‚” said Khephe.

“I sneeze a lot. It looks like I have caught cold‚” she said. The flood has drenched her clothes and the school uniform of her nine-year-old son.

Boniswa Mbola
Boniswa Mbola
Image: Vincent Lali

Boniswa Mbola said Thursday’s downpour flooded her shack in which she stays with her husband and four young children. When she opened the door early in the morning‚ “rain burst in and made my baby cry.” Water came in through the entrance.

She said that she was worried about the health of her children when she saw a “small lake” inside her shack. Over the years recurring floods have been damaging her furniture‚ she said.

Nombulelo Bunu
Nombulelo Bunu  
Image: Vincent Lali

Nombulelo Bunu said she she woke up at 4am on Thursday morning to discover that her shack was flooded.

“The rain water flows from the roofs of neighbouring shacks into the ground and filters through the floor of my shack. I’m tired of these winter floods. I want a house now‚” she said.

Said Bunu: “The floor of my shack looked like a river while the rain was coming down in the early hours of the morning.”

She used blankets to absorb the water from the floor. When we visited her‚ she was sitting next to a paraffin heater and her doors were closed. Besides keeping her warm she hoped the heater would help dry her home. The rain also drenched the school uniform of her 16-year-old son.

  • This article was first published in GroundUp.  
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