Eastern Cape floods claim three lives, divers search for missing person

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Three people were found dead this week due to flooding in parts of the Eastern Cape.
Three people were found dead this week due to flooding in parts of the Eastern Cape.
Supplied by the O.R. Tambo Municipality.
  • Three people have lost their lives in parts of the Eastern Cape as a result of devastating floods. 
  • Police divers are still searching for a 42-year-old. 
  • The transport department said mop up operations are under way. 

Three people have died this week after heavy flooding wreaked havoc in parts of the Eastern Cape.

O.R Tambo Municipality acting executive Mayor councillor Thokozile Sokanyile on Saturday confirmed that the bodies of 24-year-old Asenathi Mkawusi and 53-year-old Fumanekile Mantshubaqa were found on Friday.

They were reported missing at Rhole village in Lusikisiki at Ingquza Hill Local Municipality.

The department said police divers are continuing to search for the third person, 42-year-old Mhlabunzima Sikhathele. 

Meanwhile, on Thursday, floods also claimed a man's life who slipped over an embarkment while fishing at Coffee Bay area in King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality.

The municipality said a preliminary report indicated that three local municipalities had been seriously affected by the floods, Ingquza Hill, King Sabata Dalindyebo, with Port St John’s being the worst affected.

The heavy downpours have left a trail of destruction to infrastructure, households, and businesses.

WATCH | Heavy floods bring Port St Johns to a standstill

Zimkhita Macingwane, O.R. Tambo District Municipality spokesperson, said in Port St Johns, 10 bridges have been washed away, making it difficult for the community members to access schools and nearby facilities.

"The O.R. Tambo Disaster and Risk Management teams continue to assess the extent of the damages," said Macingwane. 

Eastern Cape department of transport spokesperson Unathi Binqose said mop-up operations are under way. 

"Clean-up operations are under way, [teams] have been brought in to clean some of the mud that has sledged towards the road. We couldn't do that yesterday [Friday] because our engineers deemed it dangerous and too risky that it may cause a further collapse of the road," said Bingose. 

eastern cape
The department said police divers are continuing to search for the third person, 42-year-old Mhlabunzima Sikhathele.

He said by Saturday, the department was given the "all clear" to commence with the clean-up. 

"We are asking road users to be patient [where] there are mudslides. There are people who are controlling, so we are asking for patience," said Bingose.

News24 previously reported that the South African Weather Service on Thursday initially sent out a yellow (level 2) warning for disruptive rain that will lead to localised flooding in the Mnquma, Mbashe, King Sabatha Dalindyebo, Nyandeni, Port St Johns, Ingquza and Mbizana municipal areas.

However, SAWS updated the weather warning to Orange (level 6) for disruptive rain in the Nyandeni, Port St Johns and Ingquza Hill Local Municipal areas.

Public relations officer for Sajonisi Woods Forum, Andile Mzungule, who is situated in Port St Johns, said the heavy floods had brought the entire town to a standstill.

"Community members are not able to leave their current locations. We are just standing here. We do not know what to do because there is water all over the town," he said.

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