Children among 8 electrocuted as floods wreak havoc in South Africa's Western Cape

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A man carries an elderly man across a flooded road during heavy flooding as a result of a storm in Sir Lowry's Village, close Somerset West on September 25, 2023. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP) (Photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images)

Heavy rainfall and gale-force winds since Sunday in South Africa's Western Cape led to the flooding of informal settlements that killed eight in two electrocution incidents.

Alderman Jean-Pierre Smith said that four people died in Driftsands and four children were killed in the Klipfontein area as floodwaters caused problems with electricity connections across Cape Town. 

The severe weather also resulted in significant damage due to flooding, mudslides, rockfalls, fallen trees and damage to buildings and infrastructure, Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said. Weather-related power outages were also experienced in several parts of the city.

"My heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones through various tragic incidents that took place during the storm," Hill-Lewis said. "May we keep these families in our prayers and thoughts."


Many homes in South Africa's townships have dangerous makeshift electricity connections, the Associated Press reported, where people hook up their houses to existing power lines, despite being illegal.

More than 60% of the city's new settlements are considered high-risk – situated under power lines, in wetlands, retention ponds and biodiversity-protected areas, Hill-Lewis said.

The South African Weather Service said that a strong cut-off low pressure caused dangerous weather conditions Sunday in parts of the country. The Western and Eastern provinces experienced the brunt of the extreme weather with widespread flooding, very rough seas and damaging winds.

The torrential 48-hour rainfall was estimated between 4 and 8 inches from Sunday into Monday, with damaging winds topping nearly 50 mph. According to the Cape Town Disaster Risk Management, 12,000 people have been affected by the storm. 

Smith said that emergency services assisted six children trapped in three houses in Strand and evacuated them to a nearby fire station. Residents were evacuated from a retirement home in Somerset West, and 170 people were evacuated to a hall in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. Emergency teams also assisted with evacuations from Faure and Sandvlei in Macassar. 

Aid workers are now assisting communities in the worst affected areas and support community-based organizations with hot meals, food, blankets and mattresses.

"It is very important for me to have visited the affected areas in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village and Rasta Kamp and to make an assessment of the number of structures that will need to be rebuilt and people needing immediate relief due to the damages," Hill-Lewis said. "Today, as mayor, I signed the necessary documents required to declare a major incident, which will enable a greater response."

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