Picture: Pexels

Johannesburg - As many as 40 shacks have caught alight in informal settlements where residents are battling the cold, the City of Johannesburg Emergency Management Services said on Tuesday.

Temperatures in Johannesburg dropped overnight to as low as -3°C, Gauteng Weather said. 

Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said: "Twenty shacks in Alexandra were destroyed by fire and another twenty burned in Soweto."

He said so far no fatalities had been reported. The City is assisting the affected residents.

“The cold front has moved into Gauteng and our temperatures have dropped to 15°C-18°C. This will persist until Wednesday, when warmer conditions will set in,” said Kumsa Masizani, a forecaster at the SA Weather Service

Temperatures are expected to increase to between 21°C and 24°C, and we can expect fine, cool and clear skies throughout the week.

To combat the cold, the public relations secretary for the Salvation Army, Carin Holmes, said the organisation had been running a winter campaign since May, and it would continue to do so for as long as possible.

“We operate as we normally do - help the cold and the hungry and do what we can.

“Our soup kitchens run throughout the year, and we also go out to donate food and clothes to the needy,” said Holmes.

Nana Radebe, spokesperson for Joburg’s Emergency Management Services, gave the following advice:

* Make sure you switch off all heaters when asleep or when you leave your home. People should use Parasene stoves, as they automatically switch off if they have tilted or accidentally fall over.

* Put stones in a jar when using a candle, as it will go out if it should fall over.

* Don't smoke near the veld, to prevent veld fires.

Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar, spokesperson for the Joburg metro police department, advised motorists and pedestrians to take the following precautions:

* Drivers should ensure that their headlights are switched on for visibility.

* If there is water or mist on the road, drivers should be extra careful.

* Motorists need to ensure that their wipers are working at all times and that their windscreens are clear of any moisture, which could hinder their vision.

* Pedestrians must always be vigilant and careful when crossing the road.

ANA and The Star