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Disabled woman says it would take her “donkey years” to forget the day of the floods

Durban — The room was filled with sadness as most women wept while sharing their hardships and challenges in the aftermath of the April floods that wreaked havoc in KwaZulu-Natal.

 

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On Monday, Deputy Minister of Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu hosted a dialogue with women from shelters at the Valleyview Child and Youth Care Centre in Sydenham.

The main concerns raised included challenges of safety, transporting children to schools and overcrowding.

Disabled woman says it would take her “donkey years” to forget the day of the floods
Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu consoled women who were flood victims when they cried uncontrollably during a dialogue held in Sydenham yesterday. These women explained how their lives had changed since they now lived in cold and unsafe shelters, after they lost all their belongings during the April floods. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

Nosipho Mtshali, 35, from True Hall in Reservoir Hills said it would take her “donkey years” to forget the day of the floods.

Mtshali, who is disabled and uses crutches to walk, lost her house and crèche which catered for about 30 children.

“It was raining very hard. I heard people screaming and crying from a distance. I automatically knew that houses were falling. I just accepted that I was going to die as I had no one to carry me to safety and it was very muddy so I was unable to use the crutches.

“When I had least expected it, someone came in and carried me. I cried in denial of losing my house and crèche. But mostly I was just grateful someone thought of me,” said Mtshali.

Disabled woman says it would take her “donkey years” to forget the day of the floods
Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu consoled women who were flood victims when they cried uncontrollably during a dialogue held in Sydenham yesterday. These women explained how their lives had changed since they now lived in cold and unsafe shelters, after they lost all their belongings during the April floods. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

Phumzile Mkhize, 80, from Jabulani Hall in Trenance Park, Verulam, who has six grandchildren, said it was difficult because they were accused of taking more space.

Mkhize said this had led her to leave the hall and seek accommodation from neighbours. But she was forced to go back to the hall due to her number of grandchildren.

“I would not lie, my neighbours are very helpful. They took me with all my grandchildren. However, I cannot shy away from the fact that knowing how expensive food is does not put me at ease. We had to go back to the hall so it would not become difficult for my neighbours to feed their families while trying to help us.

“While I thought I was making things easier, we got to the hall and our space was taken. I asked people to make some space for us and they told me there were too many and there wasn’t enough space for other people. That really broke my heart.”

Disabled woman says it would take her “donkey years” to forget the day of the floods
Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu consoled women who were flood victims when they cried uncontrollably during a dialogue held in Sydenham yesterday. These women explained how their lives had changed since they now lived in cold and unsafe shelters, after they lost all their belongings during the April floods. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

She said these challenges had led to the children dropping out of school.

“I know school is important for them but how am I supposed to get them uniforms while I am even struggling to feed them? We go days without food and school is the least of my worries,” said Mkhize.

Meanwhile, Nethabiso Mbese, 36, from Yellowwood Park, said seeing her 17-year-old son walk long distances to school was a hard pill to swallow.

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