Drakensberg - Temperatures plunged in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday with snow on the Berg and shipping movements and terminal operations in the Durban harbour hampered by strong winds from the early hours.
ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said two rescue vehicles and an ambulance were dispatched from Bethlehem to free those who were trapped in the snow. He said there were no reports of injuries.
Durban Port manager Ricky Bhikraj said limited shipping movements were being undertaken “depending on safety factors”.
“The Pier 1 Container Terminal is wind-bound while only landside operations are currently under way at the Pier 2 Container Terminal. Other port operations are similarly impacted depending on the sensitivity of cargo and operating equipment,” he said.
The situation was being assessed hourly and shipping and terminal operations would be restored “when it is safe to do so”.
Operators would be required to activate contingency plans to make up for delays.
Weather bureau forecaster Mdu-duzi Mthembu said snow fell on the Lesotho and KZN border on Saturday night. The freezing temperatures were easing by late on Sunday.
He said light snow had fallen in Kokstad. The town had the coldest temperatures in KZN, ranging from 2ºC to 12ºC.
“There are strong winds all along the coast with winds of 80km/h in Margate and 60km/h in Richards Bay,” he said.
There was a warning of very rough seas with waves up to 5m high. Gales and rough seas were expected to persist today.
Mthembu said there was no heavy rain and the rains that fell in the Eastern Cape did not appear to be heading up the coast.
Gales battered parts of Durban and damaged the roofs of several low-cost homes.
KwaMakhutha resident Lindiwe Mhlongo, 40, who was still shaken when The Mercury spoke to her yesterday, recalled how she and her family dodged pieces of asbestos and rocks on the roof falling into her RDP house.
“It was about 6.30am when I noticed that the roof was lifting up. I woke my husband and two children because I was scared the roof would cave in. But instead the roof was completely ripped from the wall and blown away,” she said.
Co-operative Governance Department spokesman Lennox Mabaso said residents should liaise with their ward committee and local municipalities so the affected families could be assisted.
A shack fire fanned by the wind destroyed 100 homes at Durban’s Kennedy Road informal settlement in Clare Estate. No injuries were reported.
Mnikelo Ndabankulu, spokesman for Abahlali baseMjodolo (the shack dwellers’ movement), said the fire started at about 5am and was probably caused by a paraffin stove. - The Mercury
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