BY: Philani Nombembe.

Humanitarian relief organisation Gift of the Givers has spent R10m providing emergency relief to thousands of people displaced or affected by recent floods in the Western Cape.

NGO founder and chairperson Imtiaz Sooliman said on Tuesday the money was spent on logistics, “transport and provision of blankets, mattresses, hygiene packs, bottled water, diapers, sanitary pads and daily hot meals to thousands of affected people along the N1, N2 and N7”.

Many more of those items — as well as clothing, stationery, uniforms, food parcels and building materials — would be required, he said, pushing the anticipated cost of the intervention to more than R20m.

“We thank those corporates and individuals helping us fill that gap in cash and kind, being yet another partner in the success story of South Africans helping fellow South Africans,” said Sooliman.

He added that the swift disaster relief effort proved “no challenge is insurmountable” when people worked together for the greater good.

“The Western Cape floods are an example of the power of unity, of harmony … where there is total co-operation between public and private, when municipalities, provincial and local disaster management, SAPS, RTI, SARZA, counsellors, community members, helicopter crews, divers, ambulance personnel, farmers, donors, media and Gift of the Givers teams work as one,” he said.

“Inaccessible roads, fallen trees, raging rivers, low-lying bridges, heavy winds, continuous rain, fallen power lines, collapsed cellphone towers, mudslides or closed tunnels mattered not — we made it happen together.

“Vehicles crossed low-lying, flooded bridges into Citrusdal. Helicopters risked winds to fly items into Wupperthal. Trucks were escorted through the closed Huguenot Tunnel into Rawsonville, to the applause, clamour, joy, ululation and dancing of these trapped, anxious and desperate communities which waited for up to seven days for the first delivery of essential supplies.”

Sooliman said stranded communities were not let down, thanks to various government departments and volunteers.

“The reaction even in not-so-trapped communities was heart-warming, soul-satisfying and spirit-uplifting, with deliveries into Strand, Faure, Mbekweni, Grabouw, Caledon, KTC, Nyanga, Bonteheuwel, Khayelitsha, Langa, Bishop Lavis, Mitchells Plain, Atlantis and Villiersdorp.

“As South Africans collectively, we made it happen for people who lost everything, were hungry, homeless, cold, wet and thirsty. We struck gold in service delivery while our athletes took gold in the 5,000m and a swimming event at the Special Olympics in Berlin.

“South Africans can fix South Africa. No challenge is insurmountable when people look beyond the brands, labels, uniforms and titles, when politics matters not, when the focus is unconditional service to fellow South African irrespective of class, colour, race, social strata, BEE points or section 18A certificates — when all that matters is bringing hope, ease and relief.”


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