Zimbabweans stranded in Johannesburg after shacks swept away


JOHANNESBURG - Most foreigners, including Zimbabweans, are stranded in the sprawling township of Alexandra, Johannesburg, after their shacks were swept away by heavy rains Tuesday night.

About 200 shacks were swept away that night alone, by the continuing heavy rains, which flooded the nearby Jukskei River, resulting in it bursting its banks.

I slept in the open, with no blankets as they were all very wet after the heavy rains, said a Zimbabwean woman, Thabitha Ndlovu.

Other residents said that they were left with no belongings, after the few they had was also swept away by the water.

I earn very little at work and it took me more than a year to buy the property that I had. Now I have to start from scratch and it might take me another year to reach the level that I had reached, said another Zimbabwean, who requested not to be named.

The stranded residents were appealing for donations from well-wishers, as most of them did not have even food to feed their families, while some have very young children to look after.

An official from the Johannesburg Emergency Services told The Zimbabwean that besides the destruction of shacks and the people's belongings, there were no tragic incidents that had been recorded Wednesday morning.

The destruction to shacks and property is the only loss that we have recorded so far, said an official.

There has been no death or injury to any person that we have been notified of and we assume that there has been none of that, he added.

The official said that the JES would remain in high alert, to respond if the rains continued, but advised people to reconstruct their shacks a further point from the river.

Most Zimbabweans, who continue to flood South Africa, after fleeing a continuing political instability and economic meltdown in their home country, are forced to live in shacks, where rentals are cheaper when compared to normal houses.

Rentals are charged at between R150 and R300 for each shack, which Zimbabweans sometimes share in twos, paying half the amount and even less for those that live in larger numbers.

However, lives have been lost in most shacks, after fire accidents like paraffin stoves burst, while theft are also commonplace, due to the insecurity of the shacks.


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