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Tue Sep 27 02:09:47 SAST 2016

Flooding threat to SA

Graeme Hosken and Shaun Smillie | 11 March, 2016 00:38

Alarms are being raised over the risk of flooding across vast regions of the country amid heavy rains.

There was widespread flooding yesterday, with two cars swept off low-lying bridges in Pretoria, damage to shops in Komatipoort and Centurion and the closing of roads in the Kruger National Park. In addition, Gauteng emergency services officers were placed on high alert amid concerns that Ekurhuleni's Civic Lake and Middle Dam would overflow.

The two cars were swept away between Wednesday night and during the early hours of yesterday morning.

One of the drivers, Leon Strydom, is still missing. He was driving through Horingneskraal when his vehicle was washed off the bridge and pinned against a tree.

As police and emergency services tried to reach Strydom's vehicle, his brother-in-law, Percy Pitzer, described how Strydom's wife, Malanie, had to be pulled away from the water by divers as she tried to swim to the car.

Said Pitzer: "We were searching for the car after Leon failed to pick his brother up for work, when we saw the vehicle's back window sticking out of the water.

"She screamed and jumped out. The divers had to fight to keep her out of the water. The divers have stopped the search because it's too dangerous."

Tshwane Emergency Services spokesman Johan Pieterse said a police diver was injured when he was hit by the car as the water washed it free from the tree.

He said the recovery operation would continue today, weather permitting.

Kruger National Park spokesman William Mabasa said while some roads in the park had been reopened, including the aerodrome at Skukuza camp, 10 others were closed.

SA Weather Service forecaster Edwin Thema said there are flood warnings for Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Nic Opperman, director of Natural Resources at Agri SA, said it was too early to assess what these rains had done to alleviate the drought.

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