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."


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.

  • horsehair - 2011-07-26 17:41

    can no one take a picture at news24?

      eckandeck - 2011-07-26 18:42

      Nope. The cameras have all been stolen.

  • Sgtsa - 2011-07-26 17:54

    we had 15 cm in london and it came to a stop for 3 days last year and this year and yes SA and snow doens;t work. bring on the summer bru

      Veronique - 2011-07-26 19:10

      I love in Hampton , not too far from Heathrow , December 18/19 last year we had 10cm of snow , I have the pics to prove it and Heathrow came to a dead stop ! South Africa isnt used to these kind of weather conditions they are pretty rare with the Exception of high lying areas of Lesotho , we are accustomed to white caps on the mountains in winter in the Cape - I lived there too ... Amazing that our great Grandparents could work through it all and that world wars could be fought through it all but geez in this day and age we are ALL rubbish at real survival!

  • shanns - 2011-07-27 13:16

    Mr Truth you silly.......go back to UK

  • LoveNations - 2011-07-27 13:36

    Shame man, if the Ndebele hadn't moved up to what is today's "Limpopo Province" in the late 1820's and chased all the Sotho's down south to the Orange River Valley, no sotho Person would ever have seen snow. Can't we buy up land in Limpopo Province and Southern Zimbabwe so that the Sotho People can return to their more natural surroundings?

  • greenpea - 2011-07-27 13:52

    "They should at least give us wood, for our stoves. And maybe help us with money." typical. how is giving them money gonna make them warm? no brain no pain!

      Voidy - 2011-07-29 12:27

      They want to buy the shake-shake man, get pissed and make more children which we the taxpayers have to raise.

  • Malemawoodworkproject - 2011-07-28 13:13


  • Christiena - 2011-07-28 14:12

    What a beautiful and strange weather report and everyone has to turn it into a political fight! If you live in a shack, its not the goverment's problem or fault...and you know what else? They wont fix it, no matter how many times they promise to. So get up and do something about your situation, because nobody cares, least of all the goverment.

  • NoTaRaCiSt - 2011-07-29 09:25

    Just think, if malema doesn't spend R 10k on on pants it can buy a whole lot of blankets and firewood for these people.

  • Voidy - 2011-07-29 12:26

    The reason there are so many shackdwellers is that they want da manee, we dont want to wek for da manee, we just want it for free. Don't blame apartheid because then there should be no under 17 shackdwellers. I say get off your arses and work for what you want, stop relying on grants and making the whole country suffer for your incompetence.

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