Cabinet commends security, emergency forces for disaster response


Cabinet has commended all members of the security forces, emergency services, civil society organisations and the public for supporting communities in distress as a result of recent heavy floods. The public must be assured that government is doing everything to mitigate the impact of the floods, spokesman Themba Maseko says in a statement.

“Cabinet noted the impact that the floods in a number communities and re-affirmed its commitment to providing assistance and support to all affected communities,” Maseko added. Thirty-three municipalities were declared disaster areas and 91 people died in the floods and lightning storms that ravaged parts of the country from mid-December. Over 320 more were injured. A consolidated initial assessment of damages has put the cost of the disaster at over a billion rand. More than 13 000 houses were damaged or destroyed, as was public infrastructure including roads, bridges, schools, clinics and churches.

Maseko says an Inter-Ministerial Committee is coordinating government’s response and is tasked with the responsibility to ensure that all the three spheres of government provide assistance and support to our communities in a coordinated manner.
“The National Disaster Management Centre, located at the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), is monitoring the situation country-wide and provides regular reports to the IMC and other relevant institutions. The National Joint Operations Center (NATJOINTS) was activitated to coordinate the response by the security cluster. The NATJOINTS coordinates with the disaster management centre to ensure prompt deployment of security forces in all the affected areas.
“The GCIS has re-activated the 24-hour operations room (Ops room) to facilitate the speedy flow of information regarding flooding to keep the government and the public informed,” Maseko added.

COGTA adds a “high-powered” government delegation, including representatives of the national disaster management centre, is to visit different parts of the country to assess damaged caused by the recent floods. The department, in a statement, says Provincial Disaster Management Centre personnel have in the past visited the areas, [and] provided the required support and assessed the damages in the villages, cities and town affected. Various ministers have also paid visits to areas affected by the various disasters, including the floods.
“The visits will take place over three days, and will cover all provinces in an effort to re-assess the extent of the damages incurred in particularly the 33 municipalities declared as disaster areas, and any other affected villages and towns,” the department explained. The visits are also in preparation for engineers to verify the provincial assessments and determine the financial impact caused by the current floods so far.