Residents of Deelpan in the North West are calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to visit their village to assess the state of the area. This comes after they expressed their unhappiness about what they call ‘government’s failed disaster response’ after the area was declared a national disaster in March.
The declaration came after heavy rains that resulted in floods, leaving scores of residents being evacuated from their homes and placed in temporary shelters.
The community spoke to the SABC outside the Sannieshof Magistrate’s court where they gathered in support of six people arrested for public violence during protests in Deelpan, last week.
The community sat outside the court holding placards and chanting songs for hours, waiting for six of their community members to be released on bail. But that was not to be as their case was postponed.
Residents say they have not been properly assisted.
“From our tribal authority to councillors, local and district mayors, and even the premier, we are not happy at all. We have not seen any help, that’s why we protested. But it seems like even the protest did not move them at all,” a resident says.
“Maybe we may see some change if the president was to come to Deelpan. Maybe we may even finally know the truth about the money that we hear has been spent helping us,” another resident explains.
“We think that we may be helped if the president comes to visit our area because he is the one who declared Deelpan to be a national disaster. It seems like those that he sent came here with their own intentions,” a third resident says.
Some homes are still not completely dry after the floods and some of the residents are still living with relatives or neighbours. Others, who have nowhere else to go are living in muddy homes that are extremely cold at night.
One of them is 50-year-old Annah Kgotla who lives with her six children and an infant who all sleep on the muddy floor.
“I live with a nine-month old premature baby. We sleep on the floor because our furniture was damaged by the water. The floor is muddy and it is cold. She always has flu and is unable to get immunizations because they say she must heal first but the flu never goes away,” says Kgotla.
The provincial Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs indicated in June in its presentation to the national ad hoc committee that R67 million had been made available for disaster relief efforts.
However, there is still no tangible intervention that can be seen. The department says the building of houses for the affected residents has been delayed but a contractor has now been appointed.
“Land has been identified and contractors have been appointed. However, due to stress directed at the contractors by the local businesses, the construction of the temporary residential units was halted. For now, a private social facilitator will be engaged and then funding is readily available for the project. As for the damaged houses and wet floors, there were no reports but the matter will be investigated by engineers,” says spokesperson Tsholofelo Mathibedi.