KZN tornado: 13 homes damaged in Ulundi after fourth tornado strikes

Traits of a tornado near Ulundi. (SAWS)
Traits of a tornado near Ulundi. (SAWS)

Thirteen houses and some schools have been damaged in the Ulundi area of KwaZulu-Natal after a what has been confirmed as a tornado hit the area on Saturday.

"According to our tools there is a strong signal that the severe storm that moved over the area produced a tornado", South African Weather Service’s William Msimanga said.

The tornado was the second tornado in less than 24 hours to hit the province, after another struck Utrecht on Friday night.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) spokesperson, Senzelwe Mzila, said there are no reports of injuries or loss of life following Saturday's tornado in Ulundi.

Mzila added that there was also no substantial damage to property in the area.

“MEC Sipho Hlomuka has dispatched teams to the area of Ulundi to assess [the area]”, he said.

On Sunday, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola visited Waterval Correctional centre in Utrect to inspect the damage following Friday's  tornado.  

Lamola's spokesperson Crispin Phiri said four cells in the Medium B facility and 46 houses at Waterval Correctional Centre had been damaged, resulting in 141 inmates being transferred to nearby correctional facilities. No fatalities were recorded.

Electricity and water supply at the centre were also disrupted but, Phiri said, contingency plans were in place.

The damage was most severe at official residences.

“Non-governmental organizations are providing meals to officials who are displaced and they will continue doing so until Tuesday where further assessments will be done.

“The Department of Correctional Services is also providing temporary shelter for officials affected. Operations at the Centre have normalised and offenders are safe and accounted for”, Phiri said.

The two tornados this weekend come on the back of two tornadoes in eMpolweni, New Hanover and Bergville earlier this month. 

Mzila said on Saturday said the department has taken necessary precautions and developed early warning communication with community members.

“The department is in close liaison with the South African Weather Service [SAWS] in terms of the notices that they issue… those warnings are communicated to communities across the province’s 54 municipalities.

“The COGTA MEC has been ensuring that the teams are activated and alerted on time when there are reports that come through from the weather service”, he said.

“The issue with tornados is that you don’t know where it’s going to strike and when it strikes it destroys everything and it’s a short period time.”

He added that the department is also educating people on what to do should a tornado hit.

Hlomuka warned citizens to be vigilant.

“We are urging residents to be cautious, especially around low lying areas or when crossing bridges. Before making any long journey residents are urged to first check the weather forecast as heavy rains pose a serious risk on our roads,” said Hlomuka.

Disaster Management teams continue to be on high alert and are monitoring areas that are prone to weather-related incidents.

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