Heavy snow causes traffic chaos

Heavy snow in Beaufort West has resulted in the closure of the N1 to Johannesburg/Cape Town.

Snow in Matroosberg, near Ceres in the Western Cape on 14 July 2012. Picture: Niel Swart/iWitness

CAPE TOWN - Motorists trying to drive from Cape Town to Johannesburg on the N1 are stuck.

The highway just north of Beaufort West has been completely closed to traffic due to heavy snow.

Extreme weather has resulted in road closures across the Western, Eastern and Southern Cape.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC)'s Ashref Ismail said, "Unfortunately there are no alternative routes. People will have to delay their trip. Those who find themselves approaching the area will have to turn back."

Western Cape Traffic Chief Kenny Africa said officials are coordinating efforts to get motorists moving, but roads will remain closed.

He said motorists travelling from Kimberly through Victoria West cannot use the road.

Drivers using the road between Victoria West and Three Sisters are also affected.

The South African Weather Service said conditions should start easing later on Saturday.

Forecaster William Msimanga said, "We are still expecting very cold conditions to dominate the interior of the Western Cape, with possible snowfall mainly in parts of Beaufort West. Tomorrow [Sunday], we are not expecting any snow."

In the Eden District Municipality, motorists been asked to avoid speeding on the roads.

Officials said the Swartberg Pass between Oudsthoorn and Prince Albert remains closed to traffic as a result.

Disaster Risk Management's Gerard Otto said, "We are warning motorists to be cautious when they use the roads in the area."

He called on the public to use 4X4 vehicles if they want to go see the snow.

Meanwhile, Eastern Cape traffic authorities have warned motorists that mountain passes on both the N6 and N9 have been closed due to heavy snowfall.

The Penhoek Pass between Queenstown and Jamestown will be closed indefinitely.

Snow is also blocking a section of the Lootsberg Pass on the N9 between Middelburg and Graaff-Reinet.

The Southern Cape has been particularly hit by the extreme weather being experienced in many parts of South Africa.