Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Earthquake shakes up Jo’burg

An earthquake shook buildings in Johannesburg and the surrounding areas in South Africa’s most populous province on Tuesday.

The magnitude 5.3 quake was centred six kilometres east of Orkney, 170km southwest of Johannesburg in North West, according to the US Geological Survey.

One person has been reported dead. “A 31-year-old man was found deceased in an old mining village in Orkney,” said ER24 spokesperson Luyanda Majija. “He was found lying under some debris.”

Emergency workers were in the mining village searching for mineworkers presumed to be trapped in 11 shafts. Majija could not immediately confirm the name of the mine.

Officials at AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Gold Fields and Sibanye Gold said earlier that they had felt the tremors at their headquarters but had not received reports of anything untoward in their mines.

Far-reaching effects
The tremors were felt in various parts of the country, shaking buildings, rattling windows and resulting in building evacuations.

The US Geological Survey said on its website,  earthquake, that the quake was felt as far away as Botswana.

“This earthquake is severely dangerous because the epicentre is located right below Orkney and Klerksdorp,” it said.

It reported that severe shaking was felt in Klerksdorp and there was an unconfirmed report of a building that had collapsed, where people were trapped. 

Lindy Sirayi, a guesthouse owner in Orkney, said the tremor broke glass lampshades and cracked a wall, and that dogs started barking during the quake, which lasted about a minute. She received a telephone call informing her that two people were injured at a nearby mine. Aftershocks were felt, but the electricity in the guesthouse stayed on, Sirayi said.

Another person on the US Geological Survey website reported that two children were injured at an Orkney mine and that buildings were damaged.

Citizens from Johannesburg to KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Cape Town reported feeling the quake. Sapa’s reporter in Durban said people in the 32-storey Durban Bay House, one of the tallest buildings in the city, were evacuated.

Johannesburg emergency services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said the tremor was felt in most parts of the city, but that it had “not received any reports of injuries or collapsed buildings. However, we will be monitoring the situation.”

The area round Johannesburg and to its south is home to some of the deepest gold mines in the world. 

And of course, tweeters commented on what was initially thought of as a tremor. – Sapa, Sapa-AP, additional reporting by Staff Reporter

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Guest Author
Sapa Ap
Guest Author

Related stories


Subscribers only

‘W Cape, fix unplaced pupils crisis’

Civil rights organisations want the department to find a permanent solution to the problem

Shanduka shade over Free State education

Audit firm PwC said R500-million irregular expenditure incurred by the Free State education department is related to an unsolicited bid by the Kagiso Shanduka Trust to improve schools

More top stories

Even religion has limits on its rights

The constitution does protect faith — but not beyond what is reasonable

Covid kills a decade of employment growth in SA

The self-employed were nearly three times less likely to work during the hard lockdown, economists found

Ramaphosa faction dividing Limpopo — NEC hears

In a leaked recording during Saturday’s ANC national executive committee meeting, Mathabatha said he has observed ‘comrades who run around purporting to be the defenders of our president’.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…