Aubrey Mashao, an Alexandra resident, said on Thursday he watched hopelessly as a raging Jukskei River swept his shack away in one of the worst storms to hit Johannesburg on Wednesday. Mashao said he arrived from work on Wednesday amidst the heavy rain in Setjwetla, Alexandra.

“It was raining so hard that I was wet from just walking a few metres to my shack. I realised that the river was overflowing when I saw a few people running from their shacks to the pathway…I saw my shack shaking, surrounded by lots of moving water, my house was gone within a split second as I stood there,” said Mashao, after spending the morning trying to find his belongings. He remembers seeing his fridge tumbling away with the river.

“My bed and other belongings were gone too. When I walked closer, my fridge was the last item to be swept away. I just watched, there was nothing I could do.”

He said the storm was the worst to hit Setjwetla since his arrival in the area in 2007.  A relative accommodated him overnight. Nearby, an elderly woman had salvaged her family’s belongings and was busy washing off the muddy clothes on the river bank. She had settled in Setjwetla eight years ago and had experienced a storm before.

“It is the second time for me and my family, but the last time was not this worse. This is the worst storm for Setjwetla,” she said.

Meanwhile, police continued the search for a three-year-old girl, Everite Chauke. Her father had carried her and went up a tree on Thursday to escape the raging water when the tree broke and the little girl slipped away into the river.

Her distraught parents were accommodated at the nearby Gift of The Givers centre as rescue services scaled the river searching for the little girl. More rainfall was expected in the area on Thursday.