Lives Lost in Flood in the South

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By Hoandi !Gaeb Mariental Welcome rains over large parts of the country claimed the lives of a well-known and beloved resident of Mariental and her mother-in-law on Friday while floods devastated the town of Mariental. Brigitte Van Wyk, an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development in the Hardap Region, and her mother-in-law drowned in the Klein-Aub area near Rehoboth after they tried to cross a river in an all-wheel pick up. Her husband, an employee of Telecom Namibia at Mariental and their two daughters survived the accident. Brigitte was known in the farming community in the Hardap Region. She was directly involved with the issuance of permits for the transportation of animals in the region. The Mariental Police also confirmed the death of a 15-year-old girl who drowned while swimming in a pool at the town’s rubbish dump. Her name could not be disclosed as her next to kin had not been informed. Meanwhile, Mariental residents had to cope without potable water for the entire day yesterday, following severe damage to the water reticulation system of the town. A high-powered delegation of the central government under the leadership of Deputy Minister of Defence Victor Simunja was dispatched to the region yesterday to consult with the Regional Governor, Katrina Hansen and other senior officials in the region. The Ministry of Defence already deployed personnel to the flooded areas to prevent loss of lives and the repetition of looting of shops and other business houses in the town as in 1974. The town is under water after the sluices of Namibia’s biggest dam, the Hardap, were opened. Business at the town came to a virtual standstill over the weekend while travellers to and from our southern neighbour, South Africa were denied their end destinations. It is highly unlikely that the road will be opened for the direct road users before the end of the week. A well-known resident of Mariental’s Aimablaagte suburb, Dawid Swaartbooi, told New Era that “the ghost of 1974 had returned”. “We still recall the damage caused during the floods in the year 2000, but today’s damage is the same as in 1974 which is still very fresh in our minds,” he said. Inhabitants of the informal resettlement areas of the Aimablaagte suburb are also very worried about the water level, which is approaching their shacks rapidly. “We do not know what to do or where to move with our property,” was the comment from Andreas Shilongo when approached by New Era.