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MEC for COGHSTA, Mr Bentley Vass on behalf of the Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, on the floods and rains in the Province

10 February 2021

Members of the Executive Council
Senior Government Officials
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

We have convened the media to keep you and the public abreast on the developments of our flood disaster in the Northern Cape. The effects of these heavy downpours have led to destruction of property, displacement of people and sadly loss of life.

Since December last year leading into early January 2021 as well as currently, the province has experienced above normal rainfall in many parts. These downpours resulted in severe flooding, resulting in damage to infrastructure such as roads, houses and also farms and crops. This naturally had drastic implications on the livelihoods of the communities in the affected areas. Some of the communities have been displaced and farmers have been left stranded due to the damaged road infrastructure.

Reports that were received from the districts indicate that three people in the Joe Morolong Municipality have lost their lives as a direct result of the floods. I wish to, on behalf of the Provincial Government express our deepest and most sincere condolences to all the families that have lost loved ones due to the floods and rains. We also wish to commend our disaster management in the Districts for their swift response to evacuate people resulting in the prevention of further loss to life. Our sincere sympathy also goes to all businesses and households that lost property or suffered destruction.

As part of gaining first-hand information and to provide relief to communities that have been cut off from the nearby towns, The Premier recently led a team of MEC’s to the John Taolo Gaetsewe District in the Province that was worst hit by the disaster. I can report that in the Province all five districts have been affected by the disaster.

In the John Taolo Gaetsewe District; municipal areas that have been severely affected are Joe Morolong, Gasegonyana and Gamagara. In the Joe Morolong Local Municipality, a number of villages are negatively affected by the heavy rain resulting in damage to about 313 households. Road infrastructure has been severely damaged leaving the Province with no choice but to close the affected roads for the safety of the communities. Road closures have been effected on the road between Churchill to Bendel due to the road experiencing water overflow and there is a possibility of the collapse of the bridge. A number of roads and bridges have also been severely damaged.
In the Gasegonyana Local Municipality, 9 villages have suffered damages, affecting 348 households.
In the Gamagara Municipality the Gamagara River that passes through Dibeng was overflowing. Storm water facilities in all the towns of Gamagara have been affected. Some roads are still closed and people are advised to use alternative routes.
Immediately when the disaster struck; to improve the coordination, the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality activated its District Joint Operation Committee and a Disaster Emergency meeting between the District Municipality and local Municipalities are taking place daily.

In the ZF Mgcawu District, Kgatelopele Local Municipality is the area most affected by the rain and accompanying winds. A total of 123 households in areas such as Thlakalatlou, Kuilsville, Marateng and LimeAcres have been affected by the storm. The R31 road near Danielskuil has been flooded resulting in damage to the road and as a result it has been temporarily closed. Warning signs were erected and road users are encouraged to use the detour. Since the occurrence, traffic officials and police have been deployed to redirect the traffic. Assessments are underway to come up with a maintenance strategy.

A sinkhole has also formed in the informal settlement of Maranteng and the Department Geoscience has been consulted in order to assist with the assessment. The Kgatelopele Municipality is also in the process of conducting a comprehensive assessment report with the assistance of engineers.

In the Frances Baard District, the areas that have been affected severely by the storm are Phokwane, Magareng and the Sol Plaatjie Local Municipality. A total of 129 households have been impacted. These households include dwellers in the formal and informal settlements where the rising water levels are due to an already aged and poor storm water infrastructure. The direct result was that the drainage system could not effectively drain water and this water seeped into the homes of people causing damage to buildings and goods. The District Municipality is in the process of quantifying the damages in order to determine the actual cost of the damages. On this matter I want to request that our communities also play their part in safeguarding our infrastructure. As I said the infrastructure is old, but the problem is compounded by people who use these storm water drains as dumping holes and the garbage and debris cause blockages and burst pipes.

In the Pixley ka Seme District, Siyathemba Local municipality and Ubuntu Local municipality are areas that have been affected severely by the rain storm. Several houses and roads have been flooded. Damage was also recorded to electrical power lines.

Namakwa District Municipality was affected due to rain coming upstream which caused flooding resulting in damages to the road infrastructure.

It should be noted that not all assessments have been completed in some of the areas due to continued and the extent of the damage in these areas will only be able to be determined once the rain has subsided. This also delays repairs to roads and other infrastructure and service delivery is also impacted.
Service delivery
Key areas that have been severely affected in the province are Education, Human Settlements, and Agriculture which impacts directly on the citizens in these areas. Provincial Government, supported by key stakeholders such as the South African National Defence force, SAPS and NGO’s has responded to bring urgent relief to affected areas and start on plans to repair damage.
A total of 27 schools have been affected by the floods. These schools are either affected directly by being damaged by water of the roads leading to the schools has been damaged to the extent that the schools are inaccessible. The majority of these schools are located within the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality. The extent of damage can only be assessed after the water levels have dropped and the areas are accessible. The Infrastructure unit will, however, explore the possibility of providing water with a mobile water tanker if the water levels do not drop significantly by the time the schools re-open. The District Offices are also monitoring the situation and if the need arises, learners will be accommodated at the nearest school or community based sites.

Once again the John Taolo Gaetsewe was most affected where in some areas the districts health care practitioners were unable to report to their respective work places which subsequently resulted in limited services in some of the facilities.
Patients who have been discharged from Bloemfontein hospitals had to remain in Kimberley longer due to limited movements or no travelling on certain roads.
The Department of Health is however managing the situation by postponing appointments of patients where this is possible and patients with life threatening conditions in the areas where ambulances have been unable to reach have been reprioritised to be air lifted. Some patients from JTG have been diverted to North West medical facilities to ensure services are accessible. Other plans will include but not limited to, reinforce accessible facilities and providing extended services in certain facilities for the duration of the potential disaster. The department will continuously monitor the situation and adjust its action plans in response to the potential disaster.
The Department of Social Development remains one of the key role players in the provision of much needed services to support humanitarian efforts to families, the vulnerable, children, the needy and the displaced families. Over the past few days the District Joint Operations worked with the Department to activate a Food Distribution Plan for the rural flooded areas of JTG. With the support of the SANDF this past weekend, a total of 260 food parcels plus 57 food vouchers were distributed to Dithakong, Bothitong, Ditshipeng, Bendell and Loopeng.

The Department will continue to provide relief in the form of food parcels, food vouchers, blankets and mattresses to affected areas in all the Districts. On completion of this process, it is expected that a total of 1500 food parcels and food vouchers, 1550 blankets and 1100 mattresses would have been distributed. Soup kitchens will also be operational. This includes areas in Ritchie, Schmidsdrift, Greenpoint and Club 2000 in the Sol Plaatjie Municipal District

The department has activated its Extension and Advisory Services to carry-out rapid assessments of damages using a detailed questionnaire on an on-going basis. It must be noted that some areas are inaccessible and a proper assessment can only be done after the water recedes. The damage to borehole pumps or solar systems can only be assessed then.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has issued a warning to farmers along the lower Orange River to secure equipment especially pumps and mechanization. Another warning was issued with regards to Rift Valley Fever and the need to vaccinate livestock in this period. The fodder bank stands ready to distribute fodder once the Extension Services has verified the needs especially in the JTG area.

The departmental Engineering Services has been dispatched to inspect flood walls at risk around the Upington areas although there are reports of some cracks; the report is that the new walls are still standing. No reports have been received of any of the 380 km flood walls having broken.

The Veterinary unit is also available and ready for advisory services regarding fly-worry, insect-borne and tick-borne diseases and control.
The department of Roads and Public works is currently in a process of assessing the extent of damages to the roads in the Province. In some instances they are waiting for the water to subside for proper evaluation. Currently the rough estimate cost for the flood damage to roads in the Province amounts to R682 000 000. The situation in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District is very critical as communities are commuting using the roads from all villages around Mothibistad to Kuruman which is the economic hub.

SANRAL has managed to repair one lane on the N8 and have opened the road between Kimberley and Campbell which will be monitored by Stop and go for 24/7 until the road is completely repaired in the coming week. The N14 between Vryburg an Kuruman was also damaged and will be closed from 18:00 to 06:00 with all signage in place.

SANRAL has managed to repair one lane on the N8 which will be monitored by a stop and go control point on a 24 hour basis until all repairs have been completed.

The R31 section between Danielskuil and Kuruman remains closed and the Department of Roads and Public Works are hard at work to complete the repairs by July this year, weather permitting.

As Government we will have to respond and source funds to urgently repair damaged roads and bridges and assist closed communities with alternative routes for daily businesses and more especially to assist learners in light of schools reopening soon.

An estimated amount of approximately R600 000 000 will be required for the following broad areas:

Humanitarian Relief/ Social Relief.

Repair of Infrastructure.

Agricultural Relief.

Repairs to damaged Houses.

It should be noted that the full extent and the value of flood damages will only be determined after the assessments has been completed by different stakeholders.


To this end, the MEC for COGHSTA has written a memorandum to request approval of the Provincial Executive Council (EXCO) to declare a Provincial Disaster in terms of Section 41 (1) (b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) due to the heavy rainfall and floods which affected the five (5) district municipalities. I have thus taken a decision to declare a Provincial State of Disaster in all the District municipalities in terms of Section 41 (1) (b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 ( Act No. 57 of 2002). The National Disaster Management Centre will be notified about the Disaster in the Province.

At this stage we wish to express our gratitude to all the volunteers and community members for their continued assistance, the Provincial and District Joint Operation Centres as well as the Provincial Government Departments for their continued commitment in responding to the needs of the affected people.
Weather reports predict more rain for some of the areas and we therefore warn community members to stay vigilant, to communicate any flooding problems with the local authorities and to follow instructions from the local authorities. All teams remain on high alert as the rivers are still in flood and the ZFM area might be facing challenges in the next few days.
We would like to reassure the public that Government will do everything in its power to prevent further loss of life and will ensure a comprehensive and result-driven relief to all affected families. We will also continue to visit the affected areas to assess the extent of the damage and speed up the mobilisation of resources. Lastly we are calling on private sector to come on board and assist with the relief of the affected communities.

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