Five people have been killed, four of them in a fire caused by lightning on Wednesday as a massive stormed raged in the Western Cape.The four were killed in a blaze in Kraaifontein. In Lavender Hill, a 60-year-old man was killed when a home collapsed on him.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Local Government in the Western Cape, James-Brent Styan said runaway fires in the Southern Cape also claimed the lives of three people:
“We’ve had three fatalities in the George area up in the Eden District that’s been reported, at this stage the amount stake up to 8.”
Nearly 800 homes were flooded across Cape Town and the Cavendish Square shopping centre in Claremont was evacuated as a major storm wreaked havoc in the Western Cape on Wednesday morning.
The Cavendish Square shopping centre was closed as a precautionary measure, the centre said on its Facebook page. Roof sheeting is believed to have blown off due to strong winds.
Buildings outside Somerset Mall, a shopping centre in Somerset West, were also evacuated as parts of the roof collapsed. Security officials said no injuries were reported.
The City of Cape Town said 97 permanent dwellings and 700 emergency houses, which were erected after recent fires, were flooded.
The emergency dwellings include 365 homes in Imizamo Yethu, 74 homes in Disa Park and 264 homes in Madiba Square. The permanent houses affected are in Macassar Village, City Of Cape Town disaster management spokesperson Charlotte Powell said.
Emergency shelters and humanitarian aid was organised.
In Lavender Hill, Mercia Blom told News24 that her house was flooded just after 23:00 on Tuesday evening.
“Past 11 the roof already started blowing and you can’t actually sleep [then the water started dripping through the roof],” she said.
“My daughter had to sleep in the kitchen because we couldn’t sleep in the rooms.”
Blom, who stays in a city-owned rental unit, said she informed the city about leaks in the building in 2016 and after that.
Fires were reported on the N2 between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna.
The Western Cape government said “pre-storm conditions,” in the form of warm and strong winds, had resulted in the fires.
Meanwhile, in George, the roofs of 16 informal structures were blown off. Power outages were reported in Thembalethu, Wilderness Heights, Industrial area and Parkdene.
Fire services dealt with 26 blazes in the municipality over the past 24 hours, the George municipality said on Facebook.
In the Overstrand municipality, power outages were reported in Voëlklip and Palmiet.
The South African Weather Service warned wind speeds between 60k/h to 80km/h can be expected on Wednesday afternoon with gusts of up to 120km/h.
Rainfall between 15mm – 30mm had been measured by 08:00 on Wednesday, with Grabouw receiving the highest amount of 63mm.
Huge swells on the coastline
The City of Cape Town has also urged residents in coastal areas to move their vehicles to higher ground as sea swells of up to 12m are expected on Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, the city also asked that property owners along the Atlantic Seaboard and False Bay coastline take special precautions to protect properties and businesses.
“We recommend that the public stay away from the coastline… including the Sea Point Promenade,” the statements reads.
The city warned that its call centre was receiving an extremely high volume of calls due to the adverse weather conditions.
It requested that residents SMS 31373 for all water-related faults such as blocked drains and 31220 for electricity-related faults.
Meanwhile, Metrorail said all long-distance and freight operations have been suspended.
Rail services between Malmesbury, Wellington and Muldersvlei have also been suspended.
Passengers should expect delay of up to 60 minutes on all lines, Metrorail said on Twitter.
No major delays on roads around Cape Town have been reported. On Wednesday morning the Huguenot tunnel and parts of the N2 after Grabouw were closed to traffic.
The South African Weather Service warned wind speeds between 60km/h – 80km/h can be expected with gusts up to 120km/h.
Rainfall between 15mm – 30mm was measured by 08:00 on Wednesday, with Grabouw receiving the highest amount of 63mm.