Jo'burg declared a disaster zone after hailstorm

05 January 2018 - 18:14 By Nico Gous
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.
Image: Sunday Times

The City of Johannesburg is now a disaster area.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba announced the decision on Friday afternoon at the Sandton fire station.

“The City has begun engaging national government as part of this process‚” he said.

This follows the hailstorm that wreaked havoc largely in the southern and western parts of the city on Saturday and caused an estimated R186.5m worth of damage.

The damage includes collapsed roofs and boundary walls of 3 152 households in Protea Glen‚ Lawley‚ Braamfischerville‚ Slovo Park‚ Snake Park‚ Doornkop‚ Tespisong‚ Rugby Club Information Settlement‚ Meadowlands‚ Westbury‚ Alexandra‚ Lefhureng and Fleurhof were affected.

“The affected structures are said to be between one and 20 years old‚” Mashaba said.

“It should be noted that some of the houses affected by the storm did not have facia boards and/or guttering on their structures‚ which normally play a role in preventing wind from entering roof structures.”

Five substations in the western part of Johannesburg were damaged. Power has been restored in these areas. Two pipes that burst during the storm have been repaired and operations have resumed. Debris obstructing roads has been cleared.

The province is providing temporary accommodation in tents to 1 200 people displaced by the storm. Community centres are also providing temporary relief. The Gauteng Department of Social Development is providing food parcels.

Mashaba said it was “disheartening” that some residents were unhappy with the help from the City.

“Earlier this week‚ the City’s Social Development Department’s Food Bank was refused entry to Protea Glen to handover disaster relief materials‚ including food to families that were affected by the storm.”

He added that people from the National Home Builders Registration Council were threatened while they were assessing the affected houses.

“If we are to succeed in assisting communities‚ these actions of a few must be condemned in the strongest terms‚” said Mashaba.

The City’s Group Risk and Assurance Services will investigate the contractors involved in construction‚ the City’s role in issuing certificates of occupation that affirm the safety of the houses‚ and banks that funded the construction of the buildings. Mashaba said this investigation is expected to take 60 days.

“I think it is not going to be fair for us as a City to accept liability … One thing [is] for sure: Something went wrong. Our communities out there were taken for a ride.”

Mashaba said the City will help residents to get their money back if it is found that shoddy construction work was done.

“I cannot understand‚ looking at the quality of those houses‚ how the banks actually approved those loans.”

An emergency hotline - 011 674 0038 - has been set up to report emergences‚ service delivery disruptions and for donations.