Human Rights Commission briefs Parliament on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery interventions

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The bodies of some of those who died in the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape and North West in April have not been recovered while unclaimed bodies lie in mortuaries.

This is according to the Human Rights Commission (HRC), which made an appearance before the Ad hoc Joint Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery on Monday.

Presenting its findings on the progress achieved in addressing the ongoing human impact of the flood disaster, the commission said it had observed that there are shortages of drinking water and that sanitation remains an issue, along with the slow delivery of houses.

The committee said one HRC commissioner told the committee that in some instances seven family members share a two-roomed unit with no running drinking water, nor privacy for anyone.

In addition, there is no security in the temporary shelters and women, in particular, are vulnerable and at serious risk, the committee heard.

“Furthermore, learners’ rights to education have been severely curtailed after more than 500 schools were damaged in the floods and some schools were closed temporarily. A number of learners have also lost important documents, uniforms, textbooks and other school-related items. What is more, the bodies of some of those who died in the floods have not been recovered, while unclaimed bodies lie in the mortuaries,” it said.

Committee members commented that the briefing focused primarily on the commission’s work in KwaZulu-Natal, but had little to say about the Eastern Cape. This was despite the fact that people’s lives in parts of that province, including residents of Port St Johns, were still severely impacted by the floods.

Residents there said nothing has been done in their area to alleviate their plight.

The Co-Chairperson of the committee, Cedric Frolick, agreed that the people of Port St Johns require urgent attention to address some of their concerns and it is a matter that needs an urgent attention by the relevant departments.

The HRC said there seemed to be a lack of political will to improve the plight of the afflicted.

Committee Co-Chairperson, Jomo Nyambi, said that the ad hoc committee had made the same observation during its various oversight visits to KwaZulu-Natal. –