Disaster management teams have been deployed after another tornado tore through Kwa-Zulu Natal, this time in Utrecht.
This is the third tornado this month, with others causing havoc in KwaZulu-Natal areas New Hanover and Bergville, as well as eMpolweni in the Eastern Cape.
In a statement released on Saturday, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka confirmed the tornado struck in the area of Utrecht on Friday night, at around 19:00. The tornado left large parts of the Watervaal Correctional Services facility damaged, including 20 houses that were utilised by staff.
Disaster management teams are still assessing the extent of the damage, but it is believed that the damage is limited to Watervaal. So far no injuries have been reported.
“This incident comes at a time when the province is mourning the loss of 23 lives due to weather-related incidents since October, this includes the tornado that struck New Hanover, in the Midlands last week Tuesday,” says Hlomuka.
Inclement weather conditions are expected to continue across the province, with the South African Weather Service issuing a warning for severe thunderstorms for large parts of the province for Saturday. These are expected to bring the possibility of strong winds, hail and heavy downpours in parts of uThukela, uMzinyathi, uMgungundlovu, Amajuba, iLembe, King Cetshwayo Zululand and uMkhanyakude Districts.
Hlomuka adds: “We are urging residents to be cautious, especially around low-lying areas or when crossing bridges. Before making any long journey, residents are urged to first check the weather forecast as heavy rains pose a serious risk on our roads.”
Over the past 10 years, 16 other tornadoes have been recorded, SAWS spokesperson Hannelee Doubell previously told News24. This year alone, one had swept through Bainsvlei in Bloemfontein in May, while a small tornado was reported in Sedgefield, the Western Cape, in September.