Snow no fun for township dwellers

2011-07-26 16:29
Harrismith - While Harrismith residents frolicked in snow that blanketed the Free State town overnight, the unusual weather brought hardship for nearby shack dwellers at Intabazwe township.

"We don't have a heater, my roof is leaking, and my children can get sick because we are not warm at night," Alina Radebe, 35, said.

Radebe and her two children, live in a shack made of tin, in the township which is home to several hundred families.

She insisted that the council should do more for township residents, when harsh weather struck.

"They should at least give us wood, for our stoves. And maybe help us with money."

The little Free State town was under a blanket of snow on Tuesday morning, after heavy falls overnight.

The unusual weather caused the closure of a long stretch of the N3 highway, between Van Reenens Pass and Villiers.

Some residents claimed that about 6cm of snow had been recorded.

Radebe who runs a tuck shop from her home, said she could not get to open on Tuesday due to the weather.

"This means no money for us."

Her neighbour Nancy Maduna said she used a paraffin heater to warm her also tin made home.

"But we can't keep it on the whole night, we won't wake up in the morning. We also can't work."

Supplies

According to police in the town, information received from the SA Weather Service indicated snow fall for three days.

A policeman tasked to spend his 12-hour shift at the turn off to Phuthaditjhaba, said he came prepared "with the right stuff for the weather".

"I've got my supplies, my lunch, my sweet stuff for the cold."

He said police had no idea when roads would be opened.

Motorists who tried to pass by the police were sternly told to turn around.

Truckers travelling between KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were also stuck on the roads. Some travellers on Monday had to seek accommodation in Harrismith, a halfway spot, overnight.

On joyful Tuesday morning, Frosty the Snowman was spotted making several appearances at the town centre, as families gathered to create a South African version of the "jolly happy soul".

Resembling the scene of an American Christmas movie, many children began rolling up huge snow balls for the bodies of the snowmen.

But instead of the "corn cob pipe, a button nose, and two eyes made of coal", these frosties wore South African Springbok scarves and beanies.

"There's no work today, we don't have power, so we are out here to play with the kids," resident Suzette Brits said.

"It took us 20 minutes to make this snow man," she said.

Youngsters were spotted throwing snowballs at each other. Another set of town dwellers were trying to make an igloo.

"Snowmen are just so overrated," one of them said.

Power outage

Petrol stations were running on generators as the town was also hit by a power outage.

A judge told Sapa that the court house was closed because of this.

Schools and shops were also closed. Dries van Niekerk, owner of Dries Auto said this was the worst snow storm since 1992.

Van Niekerk at the time was in the town council's emergency services.

"We had cowboys, out of towners, who decided to drive down the road into the valley during that snow storm. And the next thing, we received a few hours later, was an emergency call to say they were dying."

He said emergency services with the help of the army were then tasked with the rescue.

"You can lose yourself in weather like this.

"Today is a day to stay indoors and drink Gluhwein."

Snow draped surrounding mountains in white, while cattle were seen grazing in a nearby field by a frozen lake.

Truckers and other motorists were lined up just before the N3 offramp.

"We are stuck here," one motorist shouted earlier in the day.

"I have to get to the highway.

"There was no way of her being able to, as police closely monitored the off ramp, buzzing sirens as one or two drivers tried to sneak by.

Snow had fallen swiftly over the area with breaks of drizzle.

- SAPA
Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  weather
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