Snow provides winter wonderland for some but misery for many others

02 July 2018 - 14:53 By Tanya Farber
Image: iStock

While many middle class Cape Town families are taking impromptu trips to see the blankets of snow falling in areas of the province‚ others are searching for loved ones or battling the perils of inadequate housing on farms.

Colette Solomon‚ who heads up the Women on Farms Project‚ said her organisation had been alerted to at least two deaths - including a small child - when farm workers were asked to check up on livestock in the Ceres area.

They had been taken on a trailer attached to a tractor‚ but with the rain and snow in the area‚ the trailer had been washed away.

She said they were still trying to get more information on the incident.

Others‚ she said‚ were battling with inadequate housing.

“Many farm workers who are evicted end up in informal shelters‚” she said‚ “We also know of many farm workers who are still living on farms but in very poor structures that cannot handle the snow or rain - there are holes in the ceilings and walls‚ and families are exposed to the elements.”

Others‚ she said‚ were losing out on livelihood as the snow meant nobody could work and they are only paid on a daily basis if they are contracted to work.

For them‚ the snow is an unwelcome guest.

For wealthier residents who own tourism facilities‚ it has been a honey trap.

Didi de Kock‚ owner of the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve‚ said that their accommodation was “fully booked” by those keen on seeing the snow but that day visitors were welcome.

On Monday she travelled to another area to post on Facebook: “No phones‚ internet or electricity - but we are open and ready to give you a warm welcome in Little Switzerland.”

Ceres Tourism manager Imilda Ontong confirmed that the small town had seen an influx of tourists who were “mostly people from around the province” who had come in especially to see the snow.

The area had its heaviest snowfall in ten years‚ with some 10cm covering the ground by Monday morning.

According to Snow Report SA‚ the peak at Matroosberg is expected to end up with around 45cm of snow‚ with the reception area receiving around 10cm.

The Cederberg peaks are expected to get 25cm‚ with the lower areas receiving around ten to 15cm.

In some areas‚ however‚ the snow has stopped any travel in its tracks.

Anette Radjoo‚ communications manager at the Witzenberg Municipality‚ said: “Theronsberg Pass and Gydo Pass are closed due to extreme weather conditions. This means that snow routes are inaccessible as roadways are treacherous and unsafe.”

YR‚ a Norwegian weather service that uses the most advanced technology and which many South Africans rely on for reliable forecasts‚ stated that the snow in Matroosberg would continue until 6pm on Monday.

Snowfall hit the mountainous areas of the Western Cape’s inland on Sunday evening, leaving icy roads and plenty of snow in Ceres.

By Tuesday‚ though temperatures would still hover below freezing and the blanket of snow would persist‚ it likely will not carry on falling.

Beyond the Western Cape‚ the snow has also been falling in parts of the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.

In the small town of Sutherland‚ for example‚ home to the South African Large Telescope and known to be one of the coldest places in South Africa‚ the main road in the dorpie was covered in white‚ while tourists visiting the Owl House in Nieu Bethesda in the Eastern Cape also took to social media to post pictures of children playing in the school.

The weather services had warned that the Western‚ Northern and Eastern Cape were in for a major cold front that could affect livestock.

South African weather by largest cities daily with 5-day forecast.

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