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Sudden storm rips up 100 homes in Eastern Cape

Zwelidumile Gowa is one of the many victims of the storm that hit Sawutana Village in Butterworth.
Zwelidumile Gowa is one of the many victims of the storm that hit Sawutana Village in Butterworth.
Image: Randell Roskruge

Residents of Toleni and Sawutana near Butterworth are picking up the pieces after a storm ripped through their villages on Monday afternoon, destroying at least 100 homes and leaving scores of villagers without shelter.

Many spent Christmas Day wondering where they would get material to rebuild their homes, DispatchLIVE reports.

Roofs were blown away, walls were flattened and in many of those still standing, large cracks had appeared.

Roof sheeting lay strewn about the veld and mangled on garden fences.

Villagers said the storm took them by surprise at a time when many residents were busy enjoying the festivities  associated with welcoming initiates back home.

Many said they were lucky the storm happened in the day as this gave them some time to seek shelter.

It came from the southwest — first the wind, followed by a heavy downpour that sent livestock scurrying to hide under trees.

The electricity went off.

One of the worst-hit residents was Zwelidumile Gowa of kwaRadebe area, in Sawutana.

His modest main house of brick and mortar was sent flying and lay spread across the ground in pieces.

He was relieved he was not home at the time. “This is the only place I can call home and now it's been flattened by the wind and rain,” he mourned.

“The storm came and went very fast — within 15 or 20 minutes it left this devastation.

“I am left with nothing now.”

Every valuable thing he had owned was gone or damaged, he said.

“My clothes and furniture — all damaged.

“This is the only family home I had and I really do not know where to go.

“I am squatting with relatives.”

Those affected had to spend Christmas near their kraals and sleep outside their homes.

“If I had no relatives I was going to use my kraal as a place to sleep,” he said.

Not far from Gowa’s ruined home, Cacelwa Mtamzeli said she had left for Butterworth two days before Christmas and she returned to find ruins.

She said her nephews and children were home at the time.

“I could not believe my eyes — it was scary.

“All the houses in the village are damaged,” she said.

Mtamzeli’s neighbour, Spectari Mbusi, said the roof of the house built by his father had blown off.

“I am not working and I tell you it will cost me thousands to rebuild.

“We were not lucky in this village — we have been hit hard by this storm.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” he said, adding he was hoping for speedy relief.

Novusile Jack said their family home was damaged. “Lucky there were no fatalities. It could have been worse.”

She said many people had been enjoying the festivities when the front slammed into the village.

“People managed to hide, but every family in this village has a house that is damaged.

“This has affected the entire community.”

In Toleni’s R1 village several houses were damaged.

Relatives Alulutho and Nuluntu Futshane said the storm had blown their roof off.

Mnquma mayor Sithembiso Ncetezo has asked the department of human settlements to step in with temporary shelters and other support for the storm victims, said his spokesperson, Loyiso Mpalantshane.

  • In East London, the mounted unit traversed the beachfront on Christmas Day doing crime prevention patrols, during which they rescued a woman who was being attacked as well as confiscating drugs and weapons from revellers.

A  man spent Christmas Day in jail after he was spotted at Ebuhlanti by the team assaulting his girlfriend in full view of other revellers.

A knife, dagga, Mandrax and tik were among the items confiscated by officers during their daylong initiative.

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