Story by: LERATO MBANGENI, KGOPI MABOTJA, TEBOGO MONAMA AND ANA
Pictures by: ITUMELENG ENGLISH, KAREN SANDISON, MATTHEWS BALOYI, ANA and READER NATALIE MARTIN FROM BRYANSTON
Johannesburg - Hundreds of people were left homeless, vehicles were damaged and flights were delayed for several hours after a hailstorm wreaked havoc in Gauteng and other parts of the country on Monday afternoon.
In Gauteng, traffic was congested for several hours and flights at OR Tambo International Airport were delayed as one of the worst storms seen in recent times left a trail of destruction in its wake.
The hailstorm came amid the ongoing drought that is gripping many parts of South Africa.
In Brakpan, at least eight cars were trapped under the fallen roof of a Caltex filling station.
The manager, Estelle van Niekerk, described how the hailstorm struck.
“Around 4pm, there was a strong hailstorm and pedestrians walking in the street ran to the filling station to get shelter. That’s when the roof fell under the pressure of the storm.
“I have lived in Brakpan for more than 50 years and this is the worst storm I’ve ever seen,” she said.
In Roodepoort, many suburbs were plunged into darkness after a tree fell onto power lines, resulting in an outage.
Flights in and out of OR Tambo were delayed because of the storm, according to Airports Company South Africa spokesman Collins Naidoo.
“Due to severe weather conditions, flights have been diverted from OR Tambo to other airports until the weather has calmed. A few flights have been delayed and passengers need to check with their airlines,” he said.
While planes couldn't leave their OR Tambo ramps, Naidoo said, those that were supposed to land there were diverted to Bloemfontein and Durban. He added that passengers had to be flown to Joburg once the weather had calmed down.
People were stuck in traffic for several hours after the storm caused outages in traffic lights and flooded some roads.
In Limpopo, hundreds of people were left homeless after the “huge, tennis ball-sized hailstones” damaged at least 200 houses, some of which also had their roofs blown off.
Co-operative Governance Department spokesman Motupa Selomo said the government had deployed the Disaster Management Services to affected districts to assess the damage.
“We can confirm that the province was hit hard by the disaster at the weekend when the storm ravaged scattered areas.”
The provincial Disaster Management Centre said homes in part of the Sekhukhune and Mopani districts were the hardest hit hard by the storm. More than 110 houses in the Mopani district were left without roofs.
At Apel Village, south of Polokwane, at least 34 homes were left without roofs.
One of the residents, Spencer Moraswi, said that after the roofs had caved in, everything else beneath it - furniture and clothes - were badly damaged by the storm.
Prudence Mosehla and her five siblings were among those left homeless by the storm after their house’s roof was blown off.
“We don’t have a place to stay anymore, our house no longer has a roof - it was blown off and only timbers are left,” she said.
Jackpot Maseema spent Monday afternoon picking up corrugated iron sheets that had been ripped apart, in a bid to repair his home. “Everything that was in this house is wet, the furniture and the food. We're repairing the roof so that we can have a place to stay.”
On the road between Jane Furse and Lebowakgomo, motorists battled gale-force winds that threatened to sweep them across the road.
Local municipalities said they were assisting victims with food, temporary shelter and blankets.
The Star and ANA
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