Search is still on for 20-day-old baby and taxi driver

Monday, March 2, 2009

Johannesburg - Johannesburg Emergency Services are still searching for the 20-day-old baby and taxi driver who were washed away in the heavy storms which hit Gauteng on Thursday.

City of Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo on Friday declared Soweto a disaster area when about 200 families in Mofolo central, Dube and Meadowlands were left homeless when their houses were damaged or destroyed and many roads were flooded.

Operations to clean up the area and reconstruct damaged infrastructure with shovels and machinery was still continuing on Monday.

Emergency Services spokesperson, Percy Morokane, said a team comprising the South African Police Service's (SAPS) Dog Unit, divers and foot trackers were still searching for those missing.

"Our rescuers are still searching for the missing 20-day-old baby and the taxi driver. We've stopped searching for the cyclist because there is no concrete evidence to prove that a cyclist was also swept away by the floods," he said.

The body of a 13-year old girl who drowned at Meadowlands Zone 10 on Thursday was discovered at the Dorothy Nyembe Park. On Friday, Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile and Mr Masondo visited her bereaved family among other families.

Anglo-American has donated R1 million to the City of Johannesburg to be used for infrastructure restoration such as roads and sanitation at affected areas and Kwazulu-Natal non-governmental organisation, Al-IMDAAD Foundation also handed out food parcels and blankets to the flood victims at the weekend.

Apart from identifying shelters for the destitute residents, the city has also set up a help desk to offer immediate assistance to the storm victims. Many have raised concerns that they will not be able to vote as their ID Documents have been lost.

"We are urging people who lost their Identity Documents (ID) and all relief related queries such electricity and water to make use of this Help Desk," said Mr Morokane.

The damage to the suburb, south of Johannesburg, was extensive. The Mofolo Bridge on Mncube Drive in Soweto collapsed completely. In Dube, electricity poles were uprooted, walls and household goods such as furniture were also swept away.

Most residents could not go to work on Friday as they were busy mopping out the muddy waters in their houses as well as trying to dry out their wet clothes and blankets.

Stella Mbujana of Zone 10 who lost all of her belongings in the storm survived the heavy rains by climbing on top of her wardrobe with her 17-year-old son, Thabang.

She said it was frightening because the water level inside her house kept just kept on rising.

Her younger sister's spaza shop stock was also swept away by the floods. "I do not know how I am going to get money to buy the new stock and the refrigerators' which were also swept away the rain," sobbed Thandi Mbunjane.

City of Johannesburg director of communications, Gabu Tugwane said people who want to pledge donations, monetary or relief materials, can contact their office at 011 407 7309.