Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The Civil Protection Unit in Beitbridge has started rolling out flood awareness campaigns aimed at educating communities living in low lying areas on disaster and risk management methods, the district chairperson Mrs Kiliboni Ndou has said.
She said the CPU was worried about the communities in Tshikwalakwala area at the confluence of the Bubi and Limpopo Rivers and those staying close to the Zhovhe Dam and on the banks of the Shashe River.
Mrs Ndou said they would be outlining the district disaster management plan this week and that most areas synonymous with floods had been put on high alert, in light of the increase of water in most rivers and dams in the district.
“We have noted that most water bodies are filling up and some streams are nearly flooding, hence the need to educate members of the community to be wary of the impending disaster,” she said.
“We are engaging the people through ward councillors, traditional leaders, among other stakeholders. Our main target is the communities living in low lying areas like Chituripasi, Chipise, Tshikwalakwala, Shashe and those living close to the Zhovhe Dam.”
Mrs Ndou said more teams would be sent to assess the state of disaster preparedness in the district.
She said they were yet to receive reports on any incidents of drowning along the Limpopo River or around Beitbridge District.
In January 2013, a total of 12 people drowned in the eastern part of Beitbridge district, where another 200 were left homeless due to heavy rains.
In March last year, at least 777 people from 225 households in the district were left stranded when their houses were flooded.
South African police spokesperson for Limpopo Province, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, said they managed to rescue five people who had been marooned in the Limpopo River between Thursday and Friday last week.
“We suspected that they were left stranded as the water level rose while they were attempting to illegally cross the border to South Africa,” he said.
Brig Mojapelo said they also retrieved bodies of two unknown men from the same river.
“We have released those we rescued from the river to the Department of Home Affairs for further investigations,” he said.
“With rains continuing to fall in the province, the South African Police Service are issuing a warning to all members of the community to exercise extreme caution when attempting to cross swollen or fast flowing rivers and streams on foot or by vehicle.”
He called on parents to discourage children against swimming in holes or ditches filled with rain water.