Mthatha - At least seven people were struck by lightning in a freak storm in the Mthatha area on Monday afternoon, the Health Department in the Eastern Cape said.
Another 15 people were bundled into private vehicles and taken to Mbekweni Health Centre after being injured as high winds tore roofs off houses, spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said.
One of the injured is a man whose house collapsed on him.
Kupelo said all available ambulance and emergency resources were dispatched to provide urgent help after the switchboard became flooded with calls for help after 17:00.
''Our emergency services have their hands full,'' said Kupelo. ''They have been called from all over.''
The worst-affected area was the suburb of Payne in Mthatha and in Mqanduli, south of Mthatha.
Information on the full extent and reach of the calamity is being compiled but in the meantime, the municipality will start mobilising assistance for families left out in the cold after their houses were damaged.
Last December six people were killed when lightning struck at Elliotdale outside Mthatha.