#ColdFront: Informal settlement residents urged to be extra cautious

The social development dept says there has been an increase in shack fires in Soweto & parts of Diepsloot.

A hail storm hit Lenasia on Monday, 25 July 2016. Picture: Hakeemo Afghan.

JOHANNESBURG - As the weather service warns of severe thunderstorms in Gauteng this evening, residents of informal settlements have also been warned to be careful when lighting fires during the cold weather.

The Social Development Department says in recent weeks, there has been an increase in shack fires in Soweto and parts of Diepsloot.

Social development's Mbangwa Xaba says people in shelters tend to make illegal power connections.

"We call on people to be careful with the use of fire because these cold times tend to make people vulnerable to the dangers of fire."

Gallery: Heavy snowfall in the Free State, parts of KZN & EC

The province has been gripped by a cold snap which is expected to last until Thursday.

Large hailstones were reported in Lenasia and Randfontein this afternoon with the weather service warning that other areas may be affected tonight.

At the same time, the Social Development Department says its working closely with various shelters and NGOs to deal with the influx of homeless people seeking help because of the extreme cold and wet weather.

Xaba says no one will be turned away with hail predicted this evening.

"It could be children, or those who are abandoned or even those who chose a life on the street, we care for them."

He says many of the shelters in Gauteng will be able to cope with the overflow of people who need food and shelter.

"The homeless people and all those who need facilities know where to find them, they tend to respond to them whenever there is a need."

The Johannesburg emergency services say they have been placed on high alert, with hail already reported in a number of areas.