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Cyclone Dineo ‘prank’ angers Masetlheng residents

STAFF WRITER
Bad memories: Cyclone Dineo hit the country in the latter parts of the rain season
Residents of Masetlheng ward in Tlokweng received a rude awakening early Tuesday morning when a vehicle reportedly from the District Commissioner’s (DC) office criss-crossed the area warning of impending heavy rains and flooding.

For terrified residents, the early morning announcement was a reminder of the flooding caused in the low-lying ward by Cyclone Dineo in the latter part of the last rain season.

However, it has emerged that the warning was an attempt by local disaster management officers to compel residents to attend a Kgotla meeting on disaster preparedness, a tactic that apparently backfired and angered some in the area. The meeting was held on Tuesday evening. Yesterday, Meteorological Services’ principal meteorologist, Charles Molongwane told Mmegi that the department was not expecting heavy falls in the area and had these been forecast, the appropriate warning would have been issued. The department characterises heavy falls as rainfall amounts of 50 millimetres or more within 24 hours.

“I think the office of the DC is trying to prepare themselves in case there could be any natural disaster. The office might have forgotten to inform us because we normally work hand-in-hand, but they did not get the information of heavy rains from us.  “We could have issued an advisory or a warning if we are

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expecting heavy falls,” Molongwane said. Mmegi learnt that the local disaster management officials decided to use the tactic due to low attendances at Kgotla meetings in the area. Authorities were reportedly anxious to disseminate information on how residents could prepare for flooding, as Masetlheng is prone to the natural phenomenon.

“The people who made the announcement are from the office of the DC under the Department of Disaster Management,” a local authority official in the area said on condition of anonymity. “These meetings are meant to prepare for heavy rains or in case there are some floods in the area.

“I don’t know where the office got information that there would be heavy rains, but you must understand that people do not attend kgotla meetings.

“This kind of announcement makes them attend in large numbers.” Galled residents in the area told Mmegi the authorities’ tactics were distasteful, particularly as the memory of Cyclone Dineo, which hit around the same time last year, was still fresh. Officials from the DC’s office were unavailable for comment by press time yesterday.



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