11 October 2017

South Africa: Freak Storm in Gauteng Leaves Residents Without Electricity, Water and Toilets

When fierce winds started to lift the roof of her home, Isabella Dikupe grabbed her two children and fled. "We ran out of the house into the open field across the road and waited out in the open until it was over," said Dikupe.

She made it out just in time. Seconds later the roof was ripped off by the wind. "I just saw huge sheets of metal flying in the air like they were paper. It was terrifying," she said.

Dikupe, of Mayibuye near Krugersdorp, was among hundreds of people affected by the freak storm that hit Gauteng on Monday, killing one person. Homes, shopping malls, hospitals and schools were severely damaged on the West Rand.

Jonas Pholo, Dikupe's neighbour, said it was a miracle that no one on the property was hurt or killed. "Just look at this," he said pointing to a pile of rubble. "There used to be a house here. Luckily, the people who live here were at work when the storm hit."

"Now my worry is that we have no electricity and the water supply has also been affected. These massive trees were uprooted and landed on the power lines, and I think some of the water pipes have been damaged as well," said Pholo.

Stranded without electricity, the residents collected firewood from the trees that had been blown over.

Elizabeth Tsotsete also lost the roof of her home. The 70-year-old spent the night out in the open and kept warm by making a small fire. "I am just glad to be alive ... My house can be repaired and my things can be replaced, but a life can never be replaced," said Tsotsete. A neighbour has offered his garage to her as temporary accommodation.

Several residents said their outside toilets were destroyed, leaving them without proper sanitation.

Twenty-year-old Griffis Seokwang hid under some furniture during the storm. "I was so relieved when it was all over. So happy to have not been killed. But later that night I had difficulties falling asleep," said Seokwang.

Laerskool Protearif in Mayibuye suffered extensive damage. MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi said the school would have to be closed for the rest of the school year. "We have asked parents to accommodate our interim arrangement which is to relocate these learners to two schools nearby in the area."

Lesufi said other schools were also affected in Muldersdrift and Ekurhuleni.

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