Cape Town - Gale force winds caused major damage to properties throughout the Cape Town night.
No deaths or injuries had been reported by mid-morning today.
On a tour of ravaged areas near the central business district on Friday morning, the Cape Argus found roofs completely off buildings and balconies, with flying debris having caused considerable damage to cars and adjacent properties.
Shipping was affected, with the passenger liner MSC Sinfonia and its passengers stranded in Cape Town harbour.
The vessel had been due to leave port on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in the Western Cape a truck was blown over near the tunnel on the N1, near Paarl.
In Oldfield Road, Sea Point, the roof of Neill Snape’s house blew off in the early evening.
It hit a nearby electricity pole, cutting the power supply to a number of homes in the street, Snape said.
It next flattened a fence before landing on two cars.
Five other cars and a scooter were damaged by debris from the dislodged roof.
“I didn’t hear it at all, but looked out my window and saw sparks coming from the pole,” said Snape.
“I ran outside to see what had happened. But when I saw the roof lying in on my neighbours’ cars, I realised that it was dangerous to be there. One of those metal sheets, flying around at that speed could have taken my head completely off.
“I made my way back indoors, so it was only this morning that I could assess the extent of the damage.”
A new car belonging to Snape’s wife was one of the seven vehicles damaged in the incident.
The city disaster management department reported that the roof of the New Cumberland apartment building in Beach Road, Mouille Point, was blown off.
In the Bo-Kaap, the roof of a house in Longmarket Street blew off and debris landed in a nearby cemetery.
“This building has stood for more than 100 years, it must have survived hundreds of storms. I wasn’t at home, but the wind here must have been quite something. The neighbours said it was like a bomb that went off. Just look at that,” said homeowner Garfield Taylor, pointing to the bent wrought-iron poles that once held up the roof.
“The bizarre thing is that I can’t find [most of] the roof. I don’t know where it ended up.”
Walking around the block with Taylor, the Cape Argus found a beam weighing around 40kg lying 20m from the house.
In Kloof Street, the balcony of a bar, Rafikis, also suffered damage. But it was a building on the opposite corner that constituted the biggest threat. The roof of the building where Kloof Nek Pharmacy is housed came off and zinc sheets ended up wrapped around the poles holding up Rafikis balcony.
Sleeping on the pavement nearby, metres away from where the roof landed, were Sheila Frank and Chadley Cyster.
“I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking that it was a car crash,” said Frank.
“The bang was so loud. I woke Chadley up and said ‘What was that?’ and then I saw this massive roof lying close to my head. I was scared, so we packed up all our stuff and had to go sleep somewhere else. Thank God our lives were spared.”
Business owners in the area also reported damage to cars, and debris flying through a window of a nearby apartment.
Henning Grobler, of Cape Town weather office, said the average wind speed was 40-45km/h on Thursday night, continuing into this morning.
“This was obviously interspersed with gusts that exceeded that speed – up to 60 km/h,” he said.
“But it’s not yet anywhere near hurricane [force] winds.”
Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, spokesman for the disaster management department, said 40 trees in the city were brought down by the wind on Thursday night.
Electricity wires were down in Maitland, Oranjezicht, Pinelands, Bantry Bay and Kensington, causing blackouts on Thursday night.