Several areas of Tshwane flooded during the recent persistent rains
In the midst of load-shedding, Gauteng has been drenched in rain leading to severe flooding. City of Tshwane took the brunt of the floods with Centurion and Mamelodi the most affected by the floods in terms of threat to life and damage to infrastructure. Both the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) and the Gauteng Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) was activated. Reports from the Tshwane Emergency Services Department stated that they responded to incidents of flooding in various regions within Tshwane and together with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African Air Force (SAAF) rescued people from a range of places, including the tops of vehicles, informal settlements, a church and the roofs of shacks. Operations were conducted in a number of areas, including an informal settlement near SuperSport Park, Centurion, Nellmapius Bridge and Bronkhorstspruit.
Timeline of incidents
On Sunday, 8 December 2019 Tshwane Emergency Services monitored low water bridges in all regions of the City. The Capital Park, Rabie and End Street bridges were closed by the Tshwane Metro Police and community police forums.
On Monday, 9 December 2019 a large number of people were rescued by the Tshwane Emergency Services, toether with several agencies including the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African Army. The following list some of the rescues on Monday:
On Tuesday, 10 December 2019 Tshwane Emergency Services swift water rescue team rescued another two adults at Maubane Bridge in Hammanskraal.
Two fatalities were reported by the City of Tshwane EMS during the floods. On Monday, 9 December 2019 an adult male was electrocuted inside shack in Mamelodi and an adult male’s body, aged between 32 to 35, was discovered during a recognisance operation by Tshwane EMS in Centurion under a bridge on Tuesday, 10 December 2019. Unconfirmed reports stated that he did evacuate but returned to collect his belongings.
A third body was discovered by a child and managed by the SAPS in the Olievenhoutbosch area in Centurion.
The following list of displaced people was received from the City of Tshwane EMS.
Centurion (Region 4)
75 people evacuated from an informal settlement near Supersport Park Stadium, who was accommodated at Lyttleton Community Hall. The people were transported by various NGOs and volunteer organisations.
Pretoria Central (Region 3)
Eight people were evacuated from Bremer Street informal settlement to Atteridgeville Community Hall. Two Tshwane Emergency Services planned patient transporter vehicles were used to transport the evacuees.
Region 6 (Mamelodi)
Tshwane Emergency Services, with the help of the Metro Police and local councillors, evacuated affected residents in Mamelodi. 464 people from the Eerstefabrieke informal settlement and offered shelter at Mamelodi Baptist Church. 736 people were evacuated from Nellmapius and Willow farm informal settlement to Mamelodi Hall and another 100 people were evacuated from Mahube to Stanza Bopape Hall.
Many community members refused to be evacuate and some evacuated members returned to their houses putting their lives in danger.
Region 4 and 6 were the most affected by floods in terms of threat to life and damage to infrastructure. Other regions reported minimal damages related to the floods, with region 1, 2 and 7 reporting isolated incidents of mud houses that have collapsed but no injuries or lives lost.
Disaster management officials and other departments from the City and the other two spheres of government conducted assessments to determine the extent of the impact of the floods. Feedback is provided at joint operations committee 9JOCs) at the Tshwane Disaster Management Centre.
In some communities people have lost all their belongings due to the floods, leaving many displaced. Gauteng's Department of Human Settlements says around 500 people have been displaced.
On Monday, the South African Air Force (SAAF) was called in to rescue numerous people trapped by flood waters in Centurion. Several roads and low-water bridges were flooded and cars were swept away. AFB Zwartkop-based 17 Squadron took to the air for a pair of rescue missions on opposite sides of the Tshwane Metro. First port of call for the Agusta A109 light utility helicopter and an Oryx medium transport rotary-wing aircraft was Centurion, almost due east of base in Valhalla. The helicopters brought 79 people stranded at the Centurion Lake Hotel on the eastern side of the now defunct water feature to safety. Reports have it that the hotel basement parking area and its ground floor, hosting reception, restaurants and conference facilities, was flooded by the overflowing Sesmylspruit, which becomes the Hennops River further west.
Three of the 79 hoisted from the building were taken to the nearby Unitas Hospital and Medical Centre for medical assistance.
The second stop was Mamelodi in the east of the Tshwane Metro where floodwaters reportedly put the lives of up to 700 people at risk when a squatter camp was swamped by torrential rain. This, added to already overflowing watercourses in the area, created a life threatening situation to which the SA Air Force (SAAF) responded following a National Joint Operational Centre (NATJOC) call according to SA National Defence Force (SANDF) corporate communications director, Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi. Five people trapped by the flash flooding were hoisted and moved to safety.
The tasking was called for at 12h30 and completed at 17h00 when both helicopters returned safely to base. The rescue taskings were undertaken in accordance with the standing Operation Chariot tasking to assist the people in South Africa where needed, in according with the SANDF constitutional mandate.
Briefing the media in Mamelodi, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma confirmed that a body had been found in Centurion on Tuesday morning, 10 December 2019. She said that the person had been swept away by flood waters in the area on Monday. Gauteng Human Settlements, Urban Planning and CoGTA MEC Lebogang Maile told the media that at least 500 people had been displaced in Mamelodi as a result of the flooding in the area. One of the worst hit areas in Mamelodi was the Eerste Fabriek informal settlement, where a number of people had to be rescued who were trapped by severe floods.
The City of Tshwane's acting mayor, Abel Tau, expressed his gratitude for the joint effort that was led by the City's emergency services and police. The city asked for donations of blankets, food, nappies for babies and clothing for all ages. Contributions can be dropped off at the Nellmapius Library and Community Hall, and the Centurion Fire Station.
Dlamini-Zuma added that one person had also been reported missing in Mamelodi. "From what we know, there is a mother of a child that is still missing. The child is there but the mother had not been found yet. They are still looking for her," Dlamini-Zuma said.
In the meantime, multi-government teams had been established to ensure there was food, blankets and clothes for those who had been displaced.
Sources: Thabo Charles Mabaso, deputy chief: public information and media liaison, City of Tshwane Emergency Services Department and News 24, Daily Maverick, Times Live, ENCA