“There was no warning before it went completely dark and all we could see were roofs and other objects flying in the air.”
This was how one resident at an informal settlement in Zandspruit described the moment he and scores of others lost their homes to a tornado which ripped through the area on Monday.
Frans Mathakala, 42, lost his business and only source of income after the tornado ripped through his building, which comprised a shebeen with a pool table and a jukebox. Furniture, appliances, electric wiring and wall debris were strewn across the now roofless shell where his business used to be.
“We were here when it suddenly went dark, it was raining and windy when we saw the wall cave in. I ran into the house for cover. I was scared for my life. I was scared for my children, but thankfully it happened while they were still at school.”
Meanwhile, in Roodepoort, several apartment complexes were left in ruin by the storm. In two complexes visited by The Citizen, most of the roofs and windows were damaged.
At The Wedge, the residents, most of whom were renting, were scrambling to move out, gathering their damaged belongings and trying to find accommodation for the night.
Vassie Naik, whose sister lived in a second-floor apartment, said his sibling was too devastated to talk.
Her ceiling had caved in, destroying some of her belongings, but thankfully, Naik said, she wasn’t injured. Security guards said someone who was walking on the road next to the complex had died.
The chairman of the complex body corporate, Jacob Jackson, said there were two reported minor injuries and one unconfirmed death of a resident, which is said to have happened during the storm.
Insurance assessors were already taking stock of the damages which Jackson said could run to tens of millions. Residents told The Citizen that an elderly woman had suffered a heart attack and died yesterday afternoon in her apartment.
“They were moving out and they are still moving out. It’s not liveable because the electricity has been cut off. Some of the units, mostly on the first floors, are liveable if there is electricity, although its actually dangerous for people to go in there.”
A primary school in Mogale City, Krugersdorp, would likely not be operating for the rest of the year after it was hit by the storm.
Gauteng education MEC Phanyaza Lesufi said five schools in the city were affected. There were 42 pupils on the premises at Laerskool Protearif during the storm, but none were reportedly injured.
Two adults – a school teacher who was in the classroom at the time of the storm and a security guard – did suffer minor injuries.
The South African National Roads Agency said it was assessing parts of the N3 that were flooded during the storm. It said no significant damage to its infrastructure was reported. – firstname.lastname@example.org