Namste team-builders crack Sani’s snow as locals struggle on foot

2011-08-04 00:00

MUCH of the Berg’s heavy snowfalls that saw Van Reenen’s pass close last week, have yet to melt, with Sani Pass — KwaZulu-Natal’s only access point with Lesotho — closed to traffic for the past week.

Patricia Evans at Sani Top Chalet, told The Witness that a team of 40 4x4 drivers who participated in a team-building endurance event, however managed to negotiate their way down the pass on Tuesday, while Lesotho locals who get their supplies from the SA side of the border, had no choice but to walk up and down the pass.

“Prior to Sarel Steenberg from Namaste Tours and Training leading the way, Jonathan Aldous, from Sani Top Chalets, and Sarel armed themselves with a couple of spades to ‘feel’ the road beneath the snow. They left a line of dark rocks sitting on the white snow to guide the entourage down through the snow drifts.”

Evans said the pass has been impassable since Monday, July 25. “No vehicle had been through. The taxis taking the local people between Mokhotlong and Underberg, also as far as Pietermaritzburg to purchase their goods are unable to get through.” She said the slippery ice made the pass impassable.

“We witnessed the local folk struggling through the snow carrying babies, bundles, bags and boxes heavy in their hands and borne on their heads, beads of sweat on their faces despite the chilled air. Old men hobbling over their canes and old women struggled on courageously.”

Children were also carrying heavy loads on the hour and a half “endurance walk”.

Evans said Steenberg commented this was the most challenging of all the corporate tours that he had organised.

“Sarel decided that come ‘hell or high water, they were all going to get through’. After advice from Jonathan they purchased spades, picks and gumboots in Fouriesburg. He elicited the help of Jonathan and Roger Aldous who came up from the bottom of the pass.

During the slippery and scrunchy hike up through the ice and snow it looked unlikely that the vehicles at the top of the pass, waiting to descend, could get through... but with determination and lots of snow shovelling by hand, even winching of the first car through, eventually all the vehicles slowly wound their way downwards, navigating past stranded vehicles abandoned along the dirt slippery ice-bound pass.

Traffic spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu said Sani pass was opened late on Tuesday. — Supplied.

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