Two rounds of floods leaves Dakota informal settlement residents living in fear

Those living there know this isn’t the last they’ll see of this kind of disaster and are terrified the next one could claim their lives.

The Dakota informal settlement in Isipingo, near Durban. Picture: Eyewitness News

DURBAN - Residents of the Dakota informal settlement in the Isipingo area, south of Durban have been left fearing for their lives in the wake of two rounds of devastating flooding within just six weeks of one another.

The shanty village sits on a flat plain just a few hundred metres from the beach, making it particularly susceptible to inclement weather. The April floods left dozens of men, women and children destitute. Then before they even had a chance to begin getting back on their feet more storms hit last weekend wreaking further hardship on this already impoverished community.

Those living there know this isn’t the last they’ll see of this kind of disaster and are terrified that the next one could claim their lives.

Fifty-year-old Nomsa Nofemele woke in the middle of the night on Saturday to panic-stricken screams and shouts.

"I heard someone shouting outside saying: 'Hey, hey, hey, hey you are dying! Why are you sleeping like that? Get outside! The room is going to be washed away by the rain.'"

She scrambled to her feet and found herself knee-deep in water. During the April floods, her shack was completely engulfed by the raging waters, leaving her with no option but to flee or risk drowning. And for the second time in two months, she found herself in the same position.

She has been staying in the Isipingo Civic Centre, with scores of other men, women and children, since. She’s now terrified to return to Dakota, especially with a newborn baby in the home.

"Ay I'm scared now, my granddaughter’s two months. So now I’m very, very, very scared. For me too, it’s not safe," she said.

Eyewitness News spoke to several residents of Dakota who shared similar stories and concerns. But most simply don’t have the resources to secure a new place to live on their own and fear they will have no choice but to return to what they believe is a death trap in the coming weeks.

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