South Africa – Flooding Displaces Hundreds in Eastern Cape, Fatalities Reported in Mpumalanga

Flooding has displaced hundreds of people in the town of Komani (also known as Queenstown) in the Eastern Province of South Africa. Further east, two people have died and one is missing after being swept away by overflowing rivers in Mpumalanga Province. Flooding has impacted parts of the Kruger National Park where some camps have been closed.

Floods in Komania, Eastern Cape, February 2023. Photo: Chris Hani District Municipality

Eastern Province

Rivers including the Komani River broke their banks on 08 February 2023, flooding areas of the town of Komani in Chris Hani District Municipality. Other areas of the district have since been affected.

According to Chris Hani District Municipality spokesperson, Bulelwa Ganyaza, “bad weather conditions continue to wreak havoc across the district as two more municipalities are affected. Some of the rivers are currently overflowing, affecting bridges in different parts of the district… Road infrastructure in these areas has been severely damaged,” she said.

District officials reported around 1,000 people including about 123 children and 24 infants were moved from their homes and housed at a nearby school. Officials said the number of displaced is expected to rise as the rain continues. Relief supplies are being distributed to victims by government agencies and the humanitarian organisation The Gift of the Givers.

The Queenstown Life Private Hospital was flooded, forcing the hospital to relocate patients.

Chris Hani District Municipality said the Bonkolo dam reached full capacity on 08 February. Spills ways were opened and the dam infrastructure is still intact with no signs of collapse, officials said.

Floods in Komania, Eastern Cape, February 2023. Photo: Chris Hani District Municipality

Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces

Heavy rain and flooding rivers have also impacted areas of Mpumalanga Province. Local media reported two people died in the flooded Mlumati River (also Lomati) in the province in early February 2023. One person died near Kamhlushwa on 02 February. Another fatality was reported in Driekoppies on 05 February. A second person survived the incident.

On 08 February roads were flooding in parts of Mbombela, formerly Nelspruit, the capital of Mpumalanga Province, and areas to the southeast of the city including Nkomazi Local Municipality.

Since then flooding has affected around 20 villages in Nkomazi municipality. Roads and bridges have been negatively impacted, leaving hundreds of pupils unable to reach schools.

Some of the camps and roads have been temporarily closed in the southern part of the Kruger National Park (KNP) situated in the border areas of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.

“There are currently four (4) camps that have been badly affected by the floods; namely: Lower Sabie, Crocodile Bridge, Biyamiti and Talamati and they are currently not accessible. Guests arriving at Talamati today have been moved to Satara. Management is in constant communication with guests inside these camps about the situation. No threat or danger to lives has been experienced in the park and we will try our best to continue to keep all our guests in the affected camps safe,” said Kruger National Park’s spokesperson Hein Grobler.

Flooding has also affected parts of Maputo, the capital of neighbouring Mozambique. Further flooding was expected along the Incomati and Umbelúzi rivers in Maputo province as water made its way downstream from South Africa.

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