RE: AN UPDATE TO CHURCH LEADERS AND MEMBERS OF KZNCC AND AN INVITE TO GIVE DONATIONS IN KIND OR IN CASH

Dear Members and Church Leaders

The floods of April and May 2022 left thousands of families in KwaZulu-Natal displaced and homeless. Over four hundred lives were lost, some of whom whose bodies are yet to be found. This was especially within the eThekwini Municipality, although a number of other municipalities were also affected, such as Ugu, iLembe, uThukela, uMgungundlovu, and so forth. A large number of families in this way found themselves living in community halls, with neighbors, relatives, or with friends. Privacy as families therefore became a major need, aside from food, clothing, blankets, and so forth.

It is within this context that KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) was able to mobilise for funding and donations from various stakeholders. We have since donated food, clothing, blankets, and sanitary packs to hundreds of destitute families. But of special focus is its project of providing families with tents, water tanks, mobile toilets, and mattresses.

KZNCC has identified and/or created 13 sites or service points, mainly within eThekwini for this project. Some of them are within halls while others on private property.

Umzinto (Malangeni)
There are 7 families at Malangeni, which is under Ugu Municipality, that were identified. These families were fortunate that their municipality and the Department of Human Settlement were able to quickly assist them with temporary housing in form of park homes. But these were without toilet facilities and water. Five of them are grouped together on traditional property belonging to Induna while the other two are on their own individual pieces of land. We have provided them with 28 mattresses, 7 water tanks, and 7 mobile toilets.

Ntuzuma A Hall
There are 50 families at Ntuzuma A Hall who continue to reside within the hall. They have enjoyed, as some halls have, some level of support from other donors who have given them food and mattresses. But this was inadequate. KZNCC was able to donate the food, 10 water tanks, 200 mattresses, and 50 tents. We did not give them any toilets as they already had these from other donors. These tents are erected within the hall itself, with a few more with space outside along the hall’s side veranda.

Ntuzuma F Hall
There are 21 families at Ntuzuma F Hall which are the beneficiaries of this project. They were already receiving support through toilets and some food. But KZNCC was able to provide some of them with 21 tents and 80 mattresses. Some of the potential beneficiaries opted to remain in the hall, and so we choose to set up the tents on an open space in the yard. We have also donated food to them. We also gave them other tents for matriculants to study (1), food storage (1), and as an administrative office (1).

Machobeni Hall
This hall was originally earmarked to receive 20 tents. But due to fears of inadequate security and the presence of political interference, only 5 were subsequently pitched up, and we also donated 2 water tanks, and 8 mobile toilets.

Iqadi Traditional Hall
This hall fell to the same factors as Machobeni. They were earmarked for 14 tents but subsequently received 8. They were donated with 32 mattresses, 5 toilets, and 2 tanks. This is aside from food and clothing. As they have no electricity at the hall, we have committed to pay for it for six months, supplied from the neighbouring house

Mkhabela (Eskebheni), Mzinyathi
At Mkhabela we have a site consisting of 26 families. This is on traditional property under an Induna. We have been able to supplement the efforts of the Councillor by providing electricity (light) to each tent, and are in the process of setting up a kitchen by mildly renovating an existing structure. We have donated 26 tents, 104 mattresses, 10 tanks, and 20 toilets. Food and clothing has also been donated to them.

eTafuleni (AFM Church)
Rev Malusi Gumede has offered his church property for purposes of this project. There are 19 families which will be housed eTafuleni. They have been donated with 19 tents (another to be pitched up), 20 tanks, 9 toilets, and 76 mattresses. They have been also donated with food and clothing, as with most sites.

Buffelsdraai, Verulam
At Buffelsdraai Pastor Neville Govender has opened up his home to this project for 6 families. And so, 6 tents, 6 tanks, 6 toilets, and 24 mattresses have been donated to this site. But due to the interference of a neighbour who at one time even waived a gun in the air, only 3 families have yet moved in. We continue to work with the pastor in order to secure more beneficiaries for this service point.

Riet River, Verulam
At Riet River there are 15 families that reside on private property which was cleared with a TLB specially for this project. We have donated them with 15 tents, 13 toilets, 10 tanks, and 60 mattresses. We have also donated food and clothing.

Waterloo Community Hall
At Waterloo, this service point was donated with 22 tents, 5 tanks, and 80 mattresses. They were the latest site to be identified and are scheduled to receive food, together with other sites, including any other possible donations in kind.

Msunduzi Location, Ndwedwe
Our biggest sites are at Ndwedwe. On the same homestead, there are two sites, one at the front and another at the back. Each of these sites houses 50 families – 100 together. The first has 50 tents, 17 tanks, 20 toilets, and 200 mattresses. The second has 50 tents, 10 tanks, 20 toilets, and 200 mattresses. Bishop TB Ngcobo, the hosting family representative, has made available an existing structure as a kitchen, and another as a storeroom. The second site requires a kitchen (renovation of an existing structure). They have also been donated with food and clothing

Individual Homes
KZNCC has also provided tanks, tents, and toilets to about 109 individual homes. 54 of these are in Hopewell, 45 in Inanda, and 10 at Ezimbokodweni. These are still being completed, and at Hopewell it is only toilets and tanks without corresponding tents.

Counselling Services
Mr Simphiwe Zondi has been spearheading the work of counselling services for the victims. He has managed or coordinated the training of various ministers whose task is to provide counselling to the victims. He also supervises the distribution of donations in kind to the various sites.

Volunteer Ministers
KZNCC has in its work identified and worked with volunteer ministers. These are Bishop Gerald Goba, Rev Malusi Gumede, Bishop Bernard Coopasamy, Rev Sandile Dlamini, and Rev Milton Cele. They have been very helpful in making this project a success.

Challenges and Needs

·        Electricity
Electricity has become indispensable in today’s world. It facilitates the enjoyment of basic human rights. Parents need temperature control through fans and heaters for their babies. Siblings, spouses, and relatives need to be able to communicate and make emergency calls (cell phones). Learners and students have to study and conduct research (phones and laptops). All of these and more require electrical energy. This was available to most flood victims but it is no longer so, and it is untenable not to provide electricity to flood victims.

All the sites need safe and compliant electrical plug points which are proximate to each tent. Adequate flood lighting is indispensable, with an average of three positioned strategically at each site. We have supplied some of these but more are ideal.

·        Security
Security has proven to be a major determinant of flood victims being either willing to accept the offer of our provisions, especially tents, or declining it. The main reason for the change of mind of the flood victims at our most populated (by estimation) site at ward 59 (an estimate of between 100 to 150 tents) pertained to security. This was behind the subsequent failure at Machobeni Hall and the decreased delivery of tents at Traditional Hall (behing Ntshisekelo School). Dinabakubo Hall at Molweni, through its councillor, has also raised security as the major obstacle to this otherwise welcome project.

Most of the halls are occupied mainly by women and children. And it appears untenable to expose them to criminal activity by drawing them, even voluntarily, to live in tents instead of halls. They appreciate the privacy offered by tents but decline due to legitimate fears around safety. Without the presence of men, community-driven safety efforts are inadequate, understandably so.

·        Pallets
The rainy season is fast approaching as we exit the winter months. While the tents may be strongly pegged down and cemented into the ground, the truth is that once the persisting rains come, all these efforts may be proven inadequate.

Pallets are the only option available to elevate the contents, especially mattresses, of each tent. Water inside the tents would not only damage the little property which remains and give their occupants sleepless and wet nights, but it also presents a health risk in as far as inter alia the development of mould.

We have assessed that each tent needs 7 or 8 pallets in order to be entirely lifted up off the ground.

·        Water & Sanitation
It has become clear that while the tents provide privacy it is not as adequate as anticipated if regard is had to bathing needs. Parents and children have to bath within the same space. While we have procured dividers, these are not always relevant as their effectiveness depends on the amount of space that is available in each tent which sometimes takes in 5 persons.

In some sites like Ndwedwe and Riet River they have opted to utilise some of the mobile toilets as bathing spaces. But then this requires cemented (with drainage) ground beneath each toilet so that the water is not lost into the ground directly beneath, and therefore leading to toilets falling while occupied.

Additional funding (donations) are therefore required to procure cement and sand (and drainage systems) in order to cement the ground of each bathing ‘toilet’.

Further, it is reasonably anticipated that water will over time become a scarcity. At Ndwedwe the area is already water scarce and sometimes days go by without water. The tanks themselves rely on these taps and in municipal water tankers which are not always reliable. And so, water boreholes are an important alternative at Ndwedwe, Eskebheni/Mkhabela, Umzinto, Riet River, and eTafuleni.

·        Food
There is a great need for food in all the sites. The most palpable of these are Ndwedwe and Eskebheni. We anticipate a second site of another 50 families and therefore we are looking at about 1ooking at 100 families at Ndwedwe. At Ekebheni we have close to 30 families.

At Ndwedwe this is most palpable first because of their huge numbers but secondly due to the fact that they were brought to this one site from their neighbours and broken private homes and therefore do not commence their stay at the site with already available donated food, clothing, and blankets. We have provided from the light we have and have provided a donation letter in order to assist the local church to solicit funds and donations, but there is a lingering huge demand.

Eskebheni the beneficiaries are barred from the funded kitchen by their former victim associates due to the sense in those who remained at school that those in the tents are sabotaging them by relieving pressure on the government to rather provide houses. Children are obviously the most negatively affected in this regard.

The Invite to Church Leaders and Members of KZNCC
We therefore call upon all church leaders and members of KZNCC to mobilise their resources and rise to the occasion of meeting the needs of these flood victims. We could reach more victims if resources are able to permit.

Donations in kind can be delivered to 50 Langalibalele Street, Pietermaritzburg, and where necessary directly at each site, with reasonable prior notice to our office. KZNCC can also arrange for the pickup of donations. Cash donations can be sent to the KZNCC bank account: KZNCC, First National Bank, 50930141713, Cheque Account, 221-325. (Contact Ms Portia Louis plouis@www.kzncc.org.za)

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