National 28.7.2016 05:00 am

Rebuild starts after Tembisa tornado

Tembisa residents rebuild their shacks after a tornado caused massive damage. Pictures: Nigel Sibanda

Tembisa residents rebuild their shacks after a tornado caused massive damage. Pictures: Nigel Sibanda

Three toddlers survived after the twister demolished their house.

While salvaging what little was left after a tornado left a trail of destruction in Tembisa on Tuesday, Queen Molotsane, one of the affected residents from the Winnie Mandela informal settlement, said she still couldn’t believe what she saw.

Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, Molotsane said she was inside their shack with her three children when, suddenly, she heard a strong wind blowing outside.

“I had already prepared supper while the children were asleep when I heard the wind blowing and I thought that maybe there was a big storm coming accompanied by hail … not a tornado.

“I went to check what was happening and that is when I saw many people running and screaming outside and, at that moment, I started seeing my shack crumbling to the ground … I was so scared that my children would get hurt. Fortunately, after people heard me screaming, they started running towards my shack and helped me to get the children out safely,” Molotsane said.

The children are aged five and three, with the youngest just one year old. Another resident, Phindile Hlongwane, said she was on her way home from work when she received a call from one of her neighbours, telling her about her damaged shack.

“When I arrived home, indeed I found the whole shack flat on the ground … I lost everything.

“My microwave, kettle and other electrical appliances are all gone, while the only thing I have left from my bed is my mattress,” a distraught Hlongwane said.

She said the food that she bought when she went to buy groceries at the weekend was all gone.

“I am so worried and I don’t know what am I going to eat over the next coming days,” she said. “My plea to government is to please assist all of us with anything possible because this tornado really destroyed everything.”

Government officials, led by Gauteng Premier David Makhura, were assessing the damage caused by the tornado. Makhura said government was helping the affected families to rebuild their shacks as an emergency intervention.

The nearby Phumlani Mall, where large sections of the roof were damaged, remained closed yesterday amid assessment work.

EFF leader Julius Malema also visited the affected areas yesterday and called on Makhura to build houses for the affected families as an emergency intervention. The storm blew the roofs off about 200 households in the settlement, leaving an estimated 400 people displaced.

– stevent@citizen.co.za

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