CAPE OF STORMS
Gales, rain, flooding batter peninsula
THERE was no escaping “the mother of all storms” yesterday, as it lashed parts of the Western Cape and left at least eight people dead and more than 2000 displaced.
The storm unleashed gale-force winds of up to 90km/h and about 50mm of rain as it engulfed the peninsula, taking with it signage, safety gates and trees, and causing damage to property running into thousands of rand.
Three multi-car pile-ups were reported and power outages across the metro left thousands in the dark.
Residents were encouraged to stay indoors and steer clear of coastal areas, as the storm coincided with a spring tide, resulting in massive swells.
Although Gauteng will not be hit by the raging storm – the worst in 30 years – temperatures are expected to drop from today, according to the SA Weather Service. Vereeniging will be particularly affected, with a minimum of minus 3 and a maximum of 12ºC. Temperatures in Joburg will range from minus 2 to 15ºC.
The cold front is also expected to hit the Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the North West province from today until at least Sunday.
“A cold front will pass through the central parts of the country by Thursday afternoon and those in Gauteng and other provinces will feel the effects,” Weather Service forecaster Venetia Phakula told The Star.
As the storm lashed the Western Cape yesterday, President Jacob Zuma’s aircraft was grounded, leaving him unable to attend the World Association o f Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra) congress in Durban, which he was expected to address last night.
The South African Air Force’s Oryx helicopters were on emergency standby to assist with evacuations.
James-Brent Styan, spokesperson for Western Cape Local Government MEC Anton Bredell, said the Disaster Management Centre continued to manage “a range of crisis around the province” yesterday as the storm continued to rage.
More than 2 000 people were displaced in greater Cape Town.
“More than 2 000 residents of Imizamo Yethu, on the south peninsula, required alternative emergency accommodation, plus the residents of 200 homes in Makhaza, Khayelitsha. More than 80 people from an informal settlement in Villiersdorp were evacuated due to rising water levels,” Styan said.
In Grabouw, informal settlement roofs were blown off and road closures were reported. Six informal dwellings were affected in Bot River and six families were displaced and assisted by the authorities.
“More than 100 adults and children were evacuated from homes in Franschhoek, while emergency services were also assessing the situation in Touws River,” he said.
Styan said snow was expected on the mountains, which would result in extremely cold temperatures.
The South African Red Cross Society assisted with providing humanitarian relief. In Lavender Hill, a neighbour’s unfinished building collapsed onto the Wendy house where 69-year-old Joseph Connie was preparing food, killing him instantly. Connie’s body lay under the rubble for at least three hours, family said, before forensics arrived.
His wife said: “I wasn’t here when it happened, I’m hearing things from everyone.” Connie’s nephew, Jody Africa, 19, was in the house when he heard a loud noise, and saw the roof collapse onto his uncle.
In Kraaifontein, police spokesperson André Traut said the cause of a fire which killed four-year-old twins, and two adults, aged 40 and 48, was still unknown.
In Rheenendal, Knysna, a farmworker, his wife and their son died when a fire broke out.
In George, 32 shacks lost their roofs, and in the Kannaland Municipality, 40 people were evacuated when houses lost their roofs in the gale-force winds. Chapman’s Peak was closed by mudslides and, while the Huguenot Tunnel was open to cars, heavier vehicles were rerouted through the Du Toit’s Kloof Pass.
Provincial Education MEC Debbie Schäfer’s spokesperson, Jessica Shelver, said seven schools reported storm damage. Schools were closed yesterday as a safety precaution.
The SA Weather Service said the cold front was expected to persist until today. Small stock-farmers are warned that heavy rain, flooding, snowfalls and very cold conditions are expected.
Sea swells between 6m and 12m are expected, and wind speeds may reach 90km/h.
Cape Town’s Mayco member for Safety and Security and Social Services, JP Smith, said by yesterday afternoon 97 dwellings had flooded in Macassar Village, affecting 400 people. The Red Cross assisted, providing humanitarian relief.
POUNDING SURF: People run for cover as gusty winds pummel the Sea Point promenade yesterday.
OCEAN FURY: Waves bash the seafront at Sea Point.
FLOODS: The storm caused chaos in the Cape Town CBD.
SHEER FORCE: Shacks were ripped apart by 90km/h blustering winds in Hout Bay during the heavy storm which hit Cape Town early yesterday morning. The city was put on alert for the mother of all storms.
COLD COMFORT: Homeless man Vuyani Potsho had to endure a cold and sleepless night on Koeberg Road as the storm unleashed its fury.
WINDS OF CHANGE: This tree in Siyabonga street, Dunoon, Cape Town, was uprooted.
STORM HIT: Jermaine Mostert’s four-year old son Joden was injured when the roof of a flat in Aspling Court, Lavender Hill, was lifted by strong winds at about midnight.
SURF’S UP: An enthralled lensman captures the churning waves in Camps Bay which accompanied the wild weather that hit Cape shores.