Pretoria – A child is fighting for his life in ICU and at least 31 families are in dire straits after severe thunderstorms and hail wreaked havoc in New Eersterust and Refentse on Thursday night.
The devastating weather left many residents injured, largely due to the collapse of houses and shacks.
The rain was so bad, residents said, that it left their furniture in ruins, and children had to hide in wardrobes.
Resident Rosinah Manganye, 35, said she was lucky to be alive after being hit by falling bricks while with her two sisters and their nine children.
However, her 5-year-old son suffered the most. The child is fighting for his life at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital.
“My son Botshelo suffered a punctured lung, broken ribs and was left with numerous blood clots.
“I am praying for his life. He was already a sickly child living with three surgeries since he was born,” she said.
Onica Mangwa had to throw her youngest children, aged 1 and 6, in the wardrobe when bricks started hitting her and her 12-year-old on the head. The furniture in her house collapsed.
Tshedi Baloi, Jane Chauke and Maria Kutame said although they lost their homes and everything inside, they refused to be accommodated in a community hall because they had to protect the little that was left.
Community leader Margaret Sepogwane said that kind of weather occurred every October and November, but it had been getting worse for the last three years.
“The problem here is that some of the many homes that were affected are in an area that’s not supposed to be occupied. Some people live next to the river which swallows their shacks and toilets when the bad weather strikes.
“The City has been promising to move these people for so long we’ve lost hope. Something needs to be done before people die here.”
MMC for Community Safety and Emergency Services Karen Meyer said the City was assisting the 31 families affected.
She said: “The City’s Emergency Services Department has assessed the damage and, along with the City’s Community and Social Development Services Department, has identified a community centre to temporarily accommodate the affected households.
“I have requested that Emergency Services monitor the situation and provide me with regular feedback.
“I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the affected families in these difficult times, and hope that the damages may be speedily repaired where possible, or that, working with the City, suitable alternative accommodation is found.
“As we enter the rainy season, severe thunderstorms and the risk of flooding is a reality across many parts of the City. I urge residents to take the necessary precautions where possible to avoid being caught up in dangerous situations.”