Minister Van Rooyen visits storm stricken E Cape

Pretoria - Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Des van Rooyen has conveyed his condolences to the family and friends of the man who was killed in a severe thunderstorm in the Eastern Cape.

The Minister visited OR Tambo District Municipality on Tuesday, following severe weather conditions, characterised by thunderstorms and strong winds, which hit the area last week.

The COGTA Ministry on Wednesday said about 300 households have been displaced as a result.

The Minister has also wished those injured in the thunderstorms a speedy recovery.

A preliminary report of the damage assessment shows that about 1 993 households are affected in 77 villages across 15 wards.

The storms destroyed schools, houses, roads, Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres and interrupted the supply of electricity to communities. Debris is scattered all over, the roofs of some houses have been blown away, while some houses have collapsed. Approximately 1 471 houses have partial damages to varying degrees.

Eskom indicated that about 2 000 families were without electricity as a result of the storms.

With schools opening today, the COGTA Ministry raised concerns about affected schools.

Minister Van Rooyen said the response to this situation should be prompt, well-coordinated and geared towards restoring the dignity of those affected by the storms.

He expressed his appreciation to the efforts thus far by government and other stakeholders. However, he lamented the slow pace of ensuring that all resources are coordinated and the processes are followed to declare the area a disaster zone.

“The sheer impact of this on the lives of the people and the sheer extent of the devastation requires all stakeholders to join hands in response to this challenging situation,” said the Minister.

He commended government and other stakeholders for providing food parcels and temporary housing shelter for those who lost their houses.

The Minister met with communities and other stakeholders to understand the extent of the problem from their perspective.

“We are encouraged and commend the spirit of Ubuntu as displayed by some community members, who are accommodating those displaced.

“This act of goodwill will go a long way to promote caring, sharing and cooperation for the good of the whole -- Ubuntu in action,” said Minister Van Rooyen.

The Minister committed to engage other departments and role players to mobilise more support for the affected communities. -