Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
21 Apr 2022
8:47 pm

Anarchy takes over in parts of KZN as flood-ravaged residents try to rebuild

Citizen Reporter

The road to recovery is proving tougher than officials expected, with incidents of looting and protests.

Picture: Facebook/ Rusa

Residents of flood-ravaged KwaZulu-Natal have been trying to piece their lives back together after torrential rain damaged crucial infrastructure, roads and property this month.

But the road to recovery is proving tougher than officials expected, with incidents of looting and protests.

As the days progressed, KZN residents’ lack of faith in local government became apparent, amid fears that donations and aid worth billions of rands would be stolen.

Shortly after the water receded, frustrated residents took to the streets, demanding faster repairs and reconnection of basic services, such as electricity and water.

Umgeni Water reported extensive damage to its bulk water supply pipes, resulting in supply being cut off in suburbs and towns, while flooded power stations left people with no electricity.

ALSO READ: KZN floods: ‘ANC’s last chance to redeem itself’

Private security group Reaction Unit South Africa reported the first protests in the Canelands and Verulam areas, where communities began blocking the R102 with rocks and burning tyres.

People were demanding that eThekwini provide alternative housing for displaced families. The protests spread to Ntuzuma, KwaMashu, Reservoir Hills, Mayville and Umlazi, which hindered municipal workers from accessing those areas to reconnect services.

“Disgruntled residents that embark on violent service delivery protests are going to reverse the gains made under these difficult circumstances,” said eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.

On Tuesday, eThekwini reported that a fire had broken out at the Mariannridge high voltage substation, which left the facility with “extensive damage”, on top of flood damage.

The municipality said the cause of the fire was being investigated. “There is always a threat of explosions at medium- to high-voltage substations after floods,” it reported.

Repairs to the Prospecton substation, south of Durban, were also underway. Soon after dozens of shipping containers washed onto the N2 highway, south of Durban, desperate people, with seemingly no regard for personal safety, swam up the flooded highway to access the contents.

These were the first incidents of looting, reported on 12 April. Heavy-duty trucks en route to Durban as the storms hit were stuck in a traffic jam before Mariannhill toll plaza, making them sitting ducks for looters.

The trucks stranded on the N3 between Lynnfield Park and Ashburton were also targeted.

As a result, the Road Freight Association advised trucks headed to Durban to delay their journey and find safe depots in which to park as they waited to gain access to the city’s port.

On the evening of 13 April, Umlazi residents ransacked a Shoprite Usave and other supermarkets in the area.

Police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala confirmed the arrest of 12 people on shop premises in Umlazi H and J sections.

The suspects are facing charges of burglary and possession of stolen property. In another looting spree, a Shoprite truck stuck on Dumisani Makhaye Drive in Durban was also attacked.

In a video shared by deputy head metro police Steve Middleton, shots were fired by the SA Police Service and metro police officers in an attempt to disperse the plunderers.

ALSO READ: KZN flood damage to dent auto industry’s contribution to economy

The pillaging of R7.6 billion of Covid relief funds meant to assist businesses and struggling households, in addition to the R50 billion estimated to have been stolen during state capture, are still fresh in the minds of South Africans.

So, it comes as no surprise that citizens live in fear that aid worth billions of rands, meant for KZN flood victims, will eventually line the pockets of greedy politicians.

KZN’s cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka promised the auditor-general’s office would monitor how these donated resources and funds were dispersed.

This might have been a chance for the government to redeem itself but a recent video of eThekwini officials allegedly stealing food meant for rescue teams did not help the corruption-stained government’s efforts to reassure people.