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Agste Laan residents survive a week in floods

Agste Laan residents survive a week in floods

Zorena Jantze

GRISELDA van Wyk, an expectant mother of seven children, sits at the house of one of her neighbours in the Otjomuise Agste Laan informal settlement.

The mother and her seven children took refuge at the Otjomuise police station where they spent the night on the cell floor.

They were then told during the cell inspections usually done at 05:00 to find other accommodation as the “police cells are not a shelter for the homeless”.

Griselda and her seven dependents landed up a few hours later in the welcoming hands of a Good Samaritan where Informanté encountered her and she spoke about her harrowing flood ordeal in Agtste Laan.

Van Wyk is but one of the many residents in Agste Laan who have been left without shelter after the heavy rains swept through their homes and left their lives in disarray.

The young mother, who is unemployed at the moment, stated that she was caught unawares Thursday night when a strong torrent of water left her house flooded.

“I was sleeping and when I woke, I could hear the river coming down. I saw that the house was quickly being filled with water and that’s when I took my kids and left the house. We slept on a thin blanket at the Otjomuise police cell. It was cold and hard, but I had no choice but to lie down so the kids could sleep as well,” Van Wyk said.

The young mother added that her children have missed an entire week of school as their school stationery and uniforms have also been damaged by the rain.

Elia Ndiimelia is another resident who lives in one of the riverbeds of the informal settlement, an area that is labelled as a danger zone by the City of Windhoek.

Ndiimelia further stated that she has been experiencing flooding problems for the past seven years but her pleas to the councillor as well as municipality to have them moved to higher ground has fallen on deaf ears.

When the Informanté team visited the informal settlement on 17 January 2022, the Chief of Emergency Management at the City of Windhoek, Raymond Kapia, urged residents to evacuate the area.

Kapia further explained that those inhabiting the riverbed close to the Otjomuise police station are all informal dwellers settled in the area illegally.

“We are here to assess the area and to see if these people can be relocated and where they can be relocated from the danger zone,” Kapia said.

City of Windhoek spokesperson Lydia Amutenya, giving an update on the situation, stated that around 21 houses are affected by the flooding in the area, but to date only two families whose homes were completely swept away by the river were given tent shelters by the municipality.

“We were on-site yesterday and we also had a team from the human settlements department. We are busy finding a suitable area where these people can be relocated,” Amutenya said.

DISASTER: Scenes from Otjomuise Agste Laan flooding. Video: Samuel Shinedima

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