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Gauteng residents pick up pieces after fiery spring storm and lightning strikes wreak havoc

Gauteng residents pick up pieces after fiery spring storm and lightning strikes wreak havoc
Kameeldrif informal settlement burnt down when fires from burning rubble engulfed the area.(Photo: @CityTshwaneX)

On Tuesday night, parts of Gauteng province were struck by severe storms, resulting in uprooted trees, property damage, and power outages in the affected areas. The night’s most devastating outcome was the displacement of over 500 people from Kameeldrift East informal settlement, where 125 shacks were engulfed in flames due to storm-related lightning strikes. Power went out at the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant.

In a harrowing night that left residents in some parts of Gauteng in shock, heavy windstorms wreaked havoc on Tuesday, uprooting trees, causing damage to property and cars, and disrupting electricity supply. The affected areas included the cities of Tshwane, Johannesburg, Tembisa and Krugersdorp, with Tshwane suffering the most.

At least 500 people have been left displaced in Kameeldrift East, Plot 175 in the City of Tshwane after 125 shacks were engulfed in flames due to storm-related lightning strikes, according to Deputy Chief of Fire Officer of the Tshwane Emergency Services Peter Motolla. 

These turbulent weather conditions were part of a broader meteorological pattern predicted by the South African Weather Service (Saws), which had issued thunderstorm warnings for various regions across the country.

Although the early spring storms have a lasting impact on the affected regions, Tshwane Emergency Services spokesperson, Thabo Charles Mabaso, said no fatalities were recorded. 

“Last night, at around 10pm, various parts of Tshwane experienced heavy windstorms which uprooted a number of trees in areas like Valhalla, and multiple power outages that were also followed by a number of fire incidents in various parts of the city,” said Mabaso.

He added that there were houses and shacks that had their roofs blown off in the northern parts of Tshwane, and shack fires recorded in some informal settlements in Pretoria East.

Mabaso said Disaster management teams have been activated to assess the full extent of the damage in the areas where incidents were reported. 

Giving a report on the emergency calls received by the City’s Emergency Services, Motolla said that they responded to three site fires including; the Pyramid substation, Dorandia landfill and Kameeldrift East — all alleged to be caused by lightning strikes.

Motolla said that no one was injured and the emergency services put out the fires. 

According to an article by the government’s SAnews, “The storm caused massive destruction to households in Hammanskraal and the surrounding areas”. 

Although power was restored to the Rooiwal Power Station after lightning struck and caused a fire, “the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant and the farming communities supplied from the substation are still out”. 

The lack of power in the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant may have dire consequences for the community of Hammanskraal, and the City of Tshwane at large, which has been battling water sanitation issues for years. In 2021, Daily Maverick reported that the progress to refurbish the wastewater treatment plant was taking longer than expected, further exacerbating the drinking water problem in Hammanskraal. In June 2023, the community of Hammanskraal suffered a cholera outbreak that claimed over 30 lives. 

Motolla said that there were trees that were uprooted and are now blocking roads in the City of Tshwane. 

City of Tshwane emergency personnel attending a tree, Gauteng storm

City of Tshwane emergency personnel attending a tree that was damaged by heavy winds on 19 Spetember 2023 .(Photo: @CityTshwane X)

As of Wednesday morning, the inclement weather began to subside, allowing residents to take stock of the aftermath. 

Saws had previously issued warnings of spring thunderstorms in Gauteng, the North West, the Free State, and the eastern Highveld. Saws had anticipated that a weak cold front would approach the southwestern Cape, bringing with it showers and rain. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: The ‘angry sea’ just ‘kept coming’ – ‘frightening’ weekend storm batters coastal areas of SA

At the weekend, coastal regions of South Africa were hit hard by a perfect storm of high winds, spring tides and massive swells. Daily Maverick reported on the destructive force in the Eastern and Western Cape coasts, and also KwaZulu-Natal. At least two lives were lost, hikers had to be evacuated from the Otter Trail, and a famous rock formation met its demise. In Wilderness, Western Cape, a 93-year-old woman lost her life when a wave swept her off her feet while she was surf-watching from the parking lot. Gordon’s Bay and the Cape Coast suffered similar weather conditions. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Caroline de Braganza says:

    You omitted to mention North West province – Brits, Hartbeespoort, Madibeng and Broederstroom, where I live. Roofs blew off, trees were uprooted and electricity poles were downed. Eskom, Tshwane and Madibeng infrastructure were damaged. My area had power restored after 18 hours but other nearby locales on a different line are still without power. Our feed in Broederstroom is from Tshwane.

    Please don’t forget North West next time.

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