PICS: ‘Storm destroyed 5000 houses’

By GABI FALANGA Time of article published Nov 19, 2015

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Johannesburg - Mattresses, blankets, curtains and rugs hung out of the walls of several yards in Spruitview.

The houses were some of the properties in Ekurhuleni that had their roofs ripped off by the strong wind that was followed by rain and hail on Monday.

The violent storm destroyed more than 5 000 houses, according to Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality mayor Mondli Gungubele.

He said they were considering declaring parts of the metro disaster areas.

“The importance of declaring it helps us to unlock national and provincial resources,” he was quoted as saying.

The metro was helping the 1 000 houses that were worst affected after their roofs were blown off.

A visit to Spruitview on Wednesday revealed chaos, as residents scrambled to pick up the pieces of their homes and lives.

Residents told The Star of their terror as they were trapped in their houses and had bricks and other objects flung at them by the wind.

“It was horrible,” said Tsidi Ncube, whose one-bedroom cottage collapsed while she, her husband and their one-year-old daughter were inside.

“My husband was bathing when he saw the boundary wall falling. He said ‘Today we’re dying’. He was scared. On our way to escape, the walls just fell.

“We literally just saw the room falling down.”

Tsidi and her daughter were lucky to escape unharmed, while her husband broke his arm.

In the main house, Pearl Ncube and her 17-year-old brother were trapped after the wind blew large appliances across the small kitchen.

“We were trapped inside because the furniture moved. We had to climb onto the stove and fridge to get out,” she said.

Pearl’s mother, Talent, who is the owner of the house, was distraught as she struggled to come to terms with the extensive damage.

“I can’t think straight. I don’t know what to do, what to think.I’m just fixing what’s in front of me, I have no plan.”

When The Star visited, she was on her way to the bank to try to secure a loan to assist with the repairs.

In the Ncubes’ yard, belongings lay scattered everywhere.

About 100m down the road lay the remains of the family’s steel carport, dumped there by the wind, while one of their cars stood with the boundary wall lying against it.

Margaret Maphage’s house, situated right next to the N3 highway, also felt the full wrath of the storm.

Her grandson, Emmanuel Botsoere, 20, was lying on a bed watching TV when he heard the sound of the wind.

“I came out the gate and I saw a tornado moving. You could see debris of corrugated iron and tyres in the air. I ran out to save my little brother.”

Botsoere and the 12-year-old were both pelted by bricks which the wind picked up from the new house they are constructing on the property. Was he scared?

“Big time. It felt like I was in a movie.

“The hail was so bad it came with ice as big as golf balls.”

As he talked, church members carried items out of the house, while others washed the clothing that was muddied when the house was flooded.

Neighbours and Maphage’s employer gave them the money to replace the roof.

In the yard, the corrugated iron from the former roof lay so crumpled it looked like a car wreck.

Maphage’s son, Thabo Betsoere, came from Midrand to assist his family.

“It’s going to be a black Christmas. All the savings my mom had for the kids, they all depend on her financially.

“None of them will expect new shoes for school or Christmas clothes.’

Forecaster Cobus Cronje from the SA Weather Service said they had issued a warning for severe thunderstorms across Gauteng, which would last until Thursday evening.

Residents could expect the possibility of strong and damaging winds, large amounts of rain and large amounts of hail.

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The Star

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