Some of the victims of flash floods in Blantyre will have to wait a little longer to be relocated by the council because they cannot be allowed to return to their illegal homes at the foot of Soche Hill.
The 162 victims—including 118 children of all age groups—claimed they sometimes go to bed on empty stomachs due to lack of food.
The victims, who were end February moved from their initial camp—at a well-fenced Chimwankhunda Primary School—to an open ground near Zingwangwa Market, lamented that they have waited for too long to be relocated by government.
While the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) said in an interview last week that preparations were at an advanced stage to relocate flood victims across the country, the Chilobwe victims are a responsibility of Blantyre City Council (BCC).
BCC said it was discussing with relevant authorities on the relocation plan.
Violet Telesi, a mother of five—all of whom she is with at the Zingwangwa camp—said government stopped supplying them food months ago.
Telesi said: “It has been horror staying in those small hot tents. Sometimes people passing by insult and throw stones at us at night. They think it is by choice, but it is not. Some of them say we are denying them a place [the ground] for prayers.
“We were willing to return immediately after the disaster but authorities said we could not because we staying there illegally. They promised to relocate us elsewhere, which has not happened up to now.
“There have been three births in the camp and we are expecting two more soon. These people need help and this place is not conducive for raising babies.”
BCC public relations manager Anthony Kasunda said in a response to a questionnaire that they were discussing with relevant authorities to relocate the displaced people camped at Zingwangwa as well as other Soche Hill encroachers.
He admitted that the victims were not allowed to return to their illegal settlements at the foot of Soche Hill following a court ruling recently which made it clear that village head Chitsa has no mandate to sell land.
“Those buying land there should be aware that the council will not be held liable for any loss of money,” said Kasunda.
He further said the council has identified land in South Lunzu where the encroachers would be relocated once they harvest their crops.
“However, as emphasised before, we’re not giving any special package for the families apart from allocating them plots,” he stressed.
But Kasunda could not reveal the amount of money the council will require for the exercise, saying: “At an appropriate time, we’ll provide the figures.”