The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been placed on standby to assist with flood relief as heavy rains continue across the country.
The South African Air Force may be called upon to use its Oryx and A109 helicopters to rescue people affected by flooding or provide relief supllies.
SANDF spokesman Brigadier-General Xolani Mabanga said it was common for the SANDF to mobilise and be ready to assist in bad weather and that officials are monitoring the current situation. “We have our personnel ready to assist whenever we are required to do so,” he said, but added that, “there has been no request from any department for such assistance as yet.”
The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) has not declared a disaster yet but its officials are on standby across the country. “Once the head of NDMC classifies this as a state of disaster, our teams will take it from there,” said the Centre’s Tsakane Baloyi.
Yesterday the NDMC advised provincial and municipal centres in areas affected by the recent floods to begin the necessary response preparedness, including monitoring the situation and coordinating the necessary relief aid and rescue operations through the Joint Operations Centres that have already been activated for this purpose.
“Twelve people have been rescued and one was reported missing. The NDMC has further requested the South African National Defence Force to be on standby with helicopters to rescue flood victims,” the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said on Monday.
Weather SA has warned that floods may occur in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the eastern parts of the North West. Several dams and rivers have flooded in these provinces, roads and bridges have been damaged, hundreds of people have been displaced and over a dozen have drowned – eleven people drowned in Mpumalanga alone last week.
Gauteng has experienced the heaviest rainfall in 14 years, according to the SA Weather Service with weather forecasters expecting the rain to continue until Friday.
The SANDF is no stranger to providing flood relief. For example, in January 2012 Air Force Oryx and A109 helicopters rescued more than 400 people affected by floods in Limpopo and Mpumalanga and in January last year the SA Air Force deployed two Oryx helicopters and a C-130 to Mozambique to assist it with floods that displaced over a hundred thousand people. In 2011 the SANDF assisted motorists stranded in heavy snow in the Free State.