Flooding leads to destitution

Officials of the Department of Social Development visited Charmaine April’s shack on Tuesday, 20 March. From the left are Lebogang Abrams (district director), April and Drinnie Samson.
Officials of the Department of Social Development visited Charmaine April’s shack on Tuesday, 20 March. From the left are Lebogang Abrams (district director), April and Drinnie Samson.

Charmaine April (29) from the Homevale Shacks in Kimberley has become a stranger in her own home after being continuously left destitute due to flooding.

She was recently left with no choice but to remove all her remaining furniture due to the inhumane living conditions she was exposed to.

This unemployed mother reveals how she ended up dismantling some corrugated iron sheets from the back of her shack to create a path for the water to flow out.

Sweeping the water out of the shack and carrying it out in buckets has worsened the condition of her chronic back pains.

April is among those from Home­vale Shacks who had to seek shelter in community halls after heavy rains on Sunday, 18 March, left their shacks flooded.

The rainstorm caused a lot of damage throughout the city, and it also claimed the lives of two men.

April said the rain damaged her belongings to such an extent that she is not even sure it can be saved.

On Tuesday, 20 March, the Northern Cape Department of Social Development came to the affected families’ rescue by providing groce­ries, blankets and shopping vou­chers.

April, however, was not home at the time, as she was at her 12-year-old daughter’s school. Her daughter’s school books were also damaged by the water.

“I managed to replace the few items I could, and had to go to the school to make an arrangement on how to replace the text books,” she said. “I had to take the responsibility on myself – my child’s education is a priority.”

April expressed her gratitude to the department and pleaded that all 47 affected families be assisted.

She explained how they had to rely on each other for support.

She even had to move the donated grocery to her mom’s house due to the state of her home.

“In my neighbourhood, we have become one big family. That is why you will find people in my home even if my daughter and I are not home. We were all affected by the rain, and some of the shacks are in the same state as mine,” she said.

The residents, who were moved from Santa in 2017, are still waiting for confirmation as to whether or not the Sol Plaatje Municipality will find a solution to move them.

Drinnie Samson, the head of department at the Department of Social Development, said social relief funds were used to stretch out their hand in help and to act responsibly as government.

The departmental officials, along with social workers, performed inspections of several other homes to identify where they can provide further assistance.

According to Samson, they are working with various departments and municipality stakeholders in assisting these families in every manner they can.

“It is a fact that these structures are in such a state that it would not withstand any storm or other natural disaster. We are aware that the intervention we are giving is not sustainable, but we are looking for long-term help as well as overall follow-ups.”

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