Cape Town - Four days before the 24th anniversary of the Manenberg tornado, residents in Hanover Park believe they experienced a tornado themselves after 20 homes and 10 informal structures were damaged and about 127 people were affected.
The South African Weather Service is working hard to investigate whether a tornado had in fact hit Hanover Park just after 7.30am yesterday.
In Wolwerivier, 42 structures were damaged and three homes destroyed.
On August 29, 1999, five people died and 220 were injured when winds reaching 150km/h hit maisonettes in Manenberg. Five thousand were displaced.
In Friday’s incident, a resident described seeing “a black twister” in the sky moving towards their homes and then their rooftops blew off.
In one street, the rooftops of six formal dwellings were destroyed, in another street three others were damaged, and in a third street, one woman was wounded when debris from the roof sheets fell on top of her head.
Authorities have confirmed that three people were injured, with no deaths recorded.
The rescue and disaster management operations together with the City’s fire department carried out assessments using a huge fire truck to move across the damaged properties in order to gain an aerial view.
Residents have been warned not to sleep inside the buildings, which were deemed hazardous, and to seek accommodation in churches which are providing shelter.
Various organisations such as Gift of the Givers, Schaapkraal Community Forum, churches, The Hanover Park Community Policing Forum, other NGOs, and Blue Ribbon breads have rallied together to provide food, shelter and building material, such as roof sheeting.
Kanyisa Makubalo of Cape Town Weather Office Forecasting said: “Please note that we have received a couple of calls regarding the matter. We have a Yellow Level 2 for Damaging Winds for most parts of the Western Cape for today including the City of Cape Town as the cold front is passing.
“We have not received any formal report from the City of Cape Town municipality nor concrete evidence of the alleged tornado event in the area.
“We will assess the matter and investigate the alleged tornado; however, we are unable to confirm nor deny the occurrence of the tornado at the moment.”
“I was standing at my window and I saw a big tornado, a black twister, a cloud that was twisting,” said Ridwan Domingo, who lives in a maisonette with his 92-year-old father, Ebrahim Domingo, and nine other relatives.
“I was in shock and I ran upstairs to my family and I saw that the roof was blown off.”
Ebrahim and his family have been living in the house for decades.
“I am just in a state of shock,” he said.
Nico and his mother, Leah Verwey, 86, live from hand to mouth and are unable to repair their home, which is privately owned.
“The community and church will be helping us to repair our home because they are saying that this is a privately owned home,” he said.
“My mother is just shaken but she is doing well.”
Nazeema Cloete, who sustained a head injury, said she and her husband, Sedick, are happy to be alive.
“We thought they were shooting outside and then we got such a fright,” said Nazeema.
“I was sitting on my chair in the lounge and I had also been preparing paaper bites at the back of the property.
“There was this strong wind, and I just screamed Allah Akbar and I called out to my husband. Part of the roof knocked my head and I was dizzy.”
Sedick rushed to his wife’s side and pulled her inside their bedroom.
The Cloete household was one of the badly impacted homes, with gaping holes in most of their rooms and rooftops blown off.
Neighbours’ windows were also smashed by the debris.
Robin Johnson and her daughter, Kayleigh, had been fast asleep in their upstairs bedroom when their roof blew off, and they escaped with only the clothes on their back.
Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith said it was fortunate that no deaths had been experienced.
“With extreme winds in Cape Town and here winds seemed to have had the tornado-like effect,” said Smith.
“We have arranged with the maintenance team and the councillor, Antonio van der Rheede, to try to secure the properties.”
Roberto Stemmet, a humanitarian, and Walden Cameron of the CPF, Alistair Laguna of Blue Ribbon breads, and many others have created a working space and food station inside one of the homes.
They said they are concerned about the homeowners who own their properties privately, and the safety of the community’s belongings by opportunists.