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Mercury rising - SA warming up

Two people lost their lives to the harsh weather conditions that surprised the country this week.

The Penhoek Pass on the N6 route after it was re-opened. Picture: Janine Vorster/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Temperatures in Gauteng and beyond are expected to start rising significantly from Thursday, after severe weather left at least two people dead and resulted in rescue operations countrywide as snow fell across may parts of the country.

A homeless man in his 50s died on Wednesday from apparent hypothermia in Westville, KwaZulu-Natal.

In the Eastern Cape a three-year-old girl was killed near Mthatha, when she was trapped under rubble after continuous rain caused the walls of her home to collapse.

The cold weather has also seen disruptions to road and rail travel this week.

The N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban has been closed several times since Tuesday because of snow and ice.

The route is currently open, but a southbound diversion is in place between Escort and Mooi River.

Delays are expected on that route on Thursday as Gauteng residents head to the coast for the long weekend.

The N3 toll concession's Andy Visser said the roads were still wet on Wednesday evening.

"The possibility of snow falling is a risk. There has been rain, the road is wet and as the temperatures drop, black ice can form on the road surface.

"Everybody travelling needs to be cautious of the conditions."

The Passenger Rail Agency South Africa (Prasa) on Wednesday said it hoped to open railway lines between Johannesburg and Durban on Thursday morning, depending on the weather conditions.

Two Shosholoza Meyl trains were left parked and their trips cancelled on Wednesday evening.

"The line is covered with snow, so we advise our customers with tickets to contact our call centre to check on the status of their tickets," said Prasa's Lawrence Venkile.

"We hope the suspension will be lifted."