Collapsed shopping mall. (EmerGMed)
Johannesburg - Even the weather got dragged into the local government elections campaign as Economic Freedom Front leader Julius Malema and Gauteng Premier David Makhura visited the same tornado-struck areas in Tembisa on Wednesday morning.
With exactly a week to go before the elections, the red overalls had scheduled a number of community meetings in Ekurhuleni before a tornado struck during a spell of bad winter weather on Tuesday evening.
At the time Malema was scheduled to visit the ward, Makhura was doing a walkabout between the mangled remains of corrugated iron houses and blown-off roofs.
Makhura, Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele, community workers and African National Congress volunteers walked through Moses Kotane Street in Winne Mandela Extension to inspect the damage. He then went to the Phumulani Mall a few hundred metres on. The entire mall was closed after the tornado damaged most of the shops.
After addressing the community from the top of a smelling pile of rubbish, which included a dead, disembowelled rat, a used condom, fresh rocket leaves and an unopened mini-packet of broccoli from Woolworths, Makhura told News24 the tornado damaged about 100 homes.
“This tornado was blowing through here, just in one line, and what government is doing basically is to help rebuild people’s homes, particularly with temporary roofs for those whose roofs are blown.”
He said municipal workers were helping with the rebuilding. He promised residents that their electricity would be reconnected before the evening.
Bread and soup were handed to residents affected by the weather from a Shoprite truck.
Despite the presence of many EFF members in red shirts, Makhura said the rebuilding effort would take place with local residents, not political parties.
He admitted to joking with a local EFF leader that they should go back to the village in Limpopo where they both come from and rebuild it. “I offered him a deputy mayorship there,” Makhura joked.
‘We saw roofs flying’
Despite Makhura’s offers of help, some residents decided to repair their homes themselves.
Rinah Tisane, who lives on a property with two of her cousins and a two-year-old daughter, said they could not wait for government to replace their roof because they needed shelter for the evening. Two of their windows were also broken.
Even though they could laugh about the absurdity of seeing their roof, blankets and clothes blown into the air when the tornado struck, Tisane said: “We are shocked and traumatised. We need counselling and then we will be fine. But it will be hard to sleep, because what if it comes back?”
She said the tornado struck in between rain storms, when everyone was outside.
“There was a strange sound, and when we heard it we went inside, and when we came outside we saw roofs flying,” she said.
Tisane said they went and hid - with the 2-year-old - under their beds until the storm had passed.
A rainstorm followed the tornado, which meant those whose roofs were blown off had to wash and dry their bedding and clothes the morning after.
Tisane and her cousins said they were not expecting any help from the EFF either, which was preparing to campaign in the area.
Her cousin, Seipati Tau, however said she would probably vote ANC. Tau said the EFF was “full of apartheid” and she would vote Democratic Alliance before she voted for Malema’s party.
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