#TembisaTornado wreaks havoc, hundreds injured and displaced

At least 20 people were injured on Tuesday at Tembisa’s Phumlani Mall when a tornado ripped through the East Rand township, collapsing the roof of the mall and causing extensive damage to the local hospital to which the injured were rushed.

Month-end shoppers at the mall stood dazed as search and rescue teams pulled people out of the rubble of damaged shops.

Health department spokesperson Steve Mabona said some 20 people who suffered injuries at the mall had been brought to the hospital, where the tornado destroyed the fence and carports and damaged about 20 vehicles belonging to employees, as well as three ambulances.

It collapsed the part of the roof of the hospital and uprooted trees, he said, but patients were spared injury.

“Fortunately, no patient or employee sustained any injury as a result thereof,” Mabona said.

“The hospital is currently attending to people who were injured at the destroyed Phumlani Mall in Tembisa, about 20 people have been transferred to the hospital.”

Mabona said ambulances from neighbouring areas had been dispatched to assist.

Spokesperson for eKurhuleni metro police department, Wilfred Kgasago, said the tornado struck Tembisa at around 4pm.

“At around 4pm this afternoon, a tornado hit Tembisa and damaged roofs at Phumlani Mall, Tembisa Hospital and Total garage on RTJ Mamani Road,” Kgasago said.

“According to information at our disposal, two people were reported injured at the mall and our search and rescue teams are currently rummaging through the rubble searching for survivors.”

Kgasago said no casualties had been reported so far.

He added: “We have not got more information about the extent of damage caused at the Total garage but we got a report that the roof was also ripped off there.”

“The whirlwind has gone in the direction of Bronkhorstspruit and we will be trying to establish how many people are injured.”

Paramedics say three people have been injured after the roof of Phumulani Mall in Tembisa collapsed due to a heavy storm.

“Initially, reports were received that several people were trapped under the rubble. However, upon a scene assessment, emergency workers only found three people with minor injuries,” ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said.

It is believed their injuries were caused by falling debris.

“Paramedics and rescue workers found debris scattered across the parking lot of the mall as well as twisted metal strewn at the entrance of the mall. Several vehicles were also damaged.”

Vermaak added that fire and rescue teams conducted a full search of the area to ensure no one else was trapped. At this stage the teams have not found anyone else injured.

Earlier on Tuesday afternoon the mall’s spokesperson, Godfrey Mashakgomo, said several people were injured when the roof collapsed during the storm. At the time, it was not known how many people were injured.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday