Police no-go alert on Underberg road

2012-08-10 00:00

THE road between Swartberg and Underberg should be open by today, officials clearing the snow said yesterday.

Front-end loaders and graders had cleared about 30 km from Swartberg by the afternoon and police stationed outside Kokstad, Franklin and Swartberg cautioned motorists against proceeding further.

A policeman at the scene used binoculars to search for any sign of people needing to be rescued in the white wilderness that spread in all directions.

Four vehicles sat abandoned on the roadside in the cleared zone. One was a bus with a North West registration, belonging to the company Vaal Maseru, known for ferrying migrant workers. The others were a Gauteng-registered bakkie, a Mooi River-registered heavy duty lorry belonging to KKK Logistics and a tanker lorry from the Eastern Cape.

Few motorists ventured beyond Swartberg and there was only a handful of pedestrian traffic through the silent snow, which covered East Griqualand’s ranching country as far as the eye could see — all the way to the Drakensberg.

In Kokstad, hitch-hikers displaying “NUD” placards, indicating that they were bound for Underberg, were optimistic.

One was Esther Hlaki (23) who, accompanied by her boyfriend Junior Luthuli, was trying to make it to Howick for a job interview.

They hoped to stay overnight in Underberg, but were unlikely to have found the standard ride, costing R50, to the town.

The first snow for travellers from the coast was 18 km before Kokstad. There, Marburg Primary School pupil Rezhaan Lutchman (11) had his first-ever snow experience.

“I am excited. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to see snow,” he told The Witness.

“I only thought it would be softer and it’s not thick enough to make angels.”

He and his father, Vinay, made a snowman.

“I was coming up to Thabankulu from Port Shepstone to do a gas delivery,” said the father.

“When I realised there would be snow on the road on a public holiday when he wouldn’t be at school, I decided to bring him along,” he added.

Further towards the coast, between Harding and Port Shepstone, patches of sugar cane appeared brown from the cold and pockets within the fields appeared to have been smashed by the wind and the rain. The invasive alien bugweed plant also appeared to have taken a hammering.

At Shobeni, a hamlet near Paddock, from where the ocean is just visible to the east and the snowy mountains to the west, children yesterday enjoyed the sunshine after the grey weather the day before.

Port Shepstone Senior Primary pupil Siyamthanda Cele (13) said he spent cold days, when the wind blows chilly air from east Griqualand’s mountains, indoors at his Shobeni home “next to the heater”.

Further along the road, an elderly man pushed a wheelbarrow with firewood he had gathered in the hills.

Gumkutho Cele said he had neither work, nor electricity.

At the coast, a belt of brown water spread several hundred metres out to sea, indicating run-off from the inland hills between the beach and the Berg.

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