With his three-year-old daughter gently but firmly clasped to his left side‚ Shadrick Chauke tried to escape the raging waters of a swollen Jukskei River by climbing a tree.
But the branch he was holding on to snapped. Little Everite slipped from his grasp and was swept away by the torrent.
“She disappeared and I screamed to my wife and neighbours to try and save her‚ but the water was very strong and flowing very fast‚” Chauke said.
“It was raining hard and it was almost dark and neighbours were also trying to save their possessions and their lives. Nobody paid attention to what was happening to my daughter.”
Shadrick had climbed the tree to escape from the water which had engulfed his shack near the Jukskei in Alexandra‚ in northern Johannesburg‚ during flash floods on Wednesday evening.
The search for Everite continued on Thursday.
City of Joburg EMS @CityofJoburgEMS tweeted a photo from the operation: “Swift Water Rescue together with @SAPoliceService Divers searching the muddy water for the missing girl in Alexandra #Floods @radebe–nana”.
— City of Joburg EMS (@CityofJoburgEMS) November 10, 2016
Acting Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile visited the area and consoled “the Chauke family who lost their daughter … in the #flashfloods”.
— GautengGov (@GautengProvince) November 10, 2016
The City of Joburg had previously paved large sections of the river’s bank in an effort to discourage people from erecting shacks there.
But Emily Thomas‚ from Gift of the Givers‚ the aid organisation which delivered tents and food in the area on Thursday after responding to a call from the City of Joburg‚ said the banks of the Jukskei were a recurring problem during rainy periods.
“We’ve been coming here year after year with various disasters.” She said people were moved from the area regularly‚ but were replaced with new shack-dwellers.
Musa Mabolo lost all her belongings‚ including her identity document‚ when the floods swept through Alex.
“I have been staying here since 1998 and I have never seen such floods‚ normally the water flows within the stream‚ but last night it was something else‚” she said.
Mashatile said affected families will be relocated while authorities assess the damage.
– TMG Digital