Man dies, houses damaged in Gauteng wind storm

A man was killed when a tree fell on top of him during high winds on Monday night at Zevenfontein informal settlement, north of Johannesburg, South African Broadcasting Corporation radio news reported.

Monday night also saw large areas of Gauteng plunged into darkness and roofs flying off houses.

Johannesburg emergency services received about 1 500 emergency calls on Monday night, The Star newspaper reported, adding that winds gusted up to 50kph.

The giant Coca-Cola sign atop the Marlboro Towers building in central Johannesburg had to be taken down as it was about to crash down.

In Bryanston, a car dealership’s windows were smashed by the strong wind.

In Ekurhuleni, a Brakpan block of flats and a school in Tsakane lost their roofs.

Some Johannesburg traffic lights were out of order and branches and debris covered the city’s streets on Tuesday morning. A tree blocked two lanes at the busy William Nicol Drive offramp on the N1 north, reported The Star.

Emergency services spokesperson Steven Kirk said a few minor accidents had been reported around the city. He warned drivers to be on the lookout for debris and traffic lights that were not working.

City Parks workers were travelling from suburb to suburb on Tuesday, clearing branches off the streets.

In Pretoria, strong winds and lightning caused ”a great amount of outages” in the metropolitan area, the Tshwane city council said.

The area most affected was around Hartbeespoort. In central Pretoria, strong winds brought down a jacaranda tree on to a car.

”Broken trees will have to be removed and electrical poles replanted,” the council said in a statement.

‘Poor management’

The wind storm in Johannesburg has revealed poor management on the part of the African National Congress-led council, said the Democratic Alliance.

Councillor Mike Moriarty said the windstorm has exposed the brittle state of the City of Johannesburg’s electricity infrastructure.

”The storm left the City Power technicians to battle to fix over 300 different faults and the council’s call centre 375 5555 was rendered useless as callers could neither get through to an operator, nor was there a voice recording that would advise what was going on,” said Moriarty.

”This situation again reveals poor management on the part of the ANC-led council.”

He added that if the DA were in charge, there would be pro-active tree-pruning programmes and remote electrical-fault detection and switch-reset mechanisms. There would also be working alternative relay circuits for the early restoration of power.

”Give the DA the tools and we’ll fix it,” Moriarty said in a statement.

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