On the tourist coast near Cape Town, strong tides combined with violent winds caused a powerful swell over the weekend, with water overtopping the dykes and flooding streets and houses in places.
A 92-year-old woman died in the bad weather that began on Saturday, Craig Lambinon, spokesman for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), told AFP on Sunday.
In a seaside restaurant in Kalk Bay, a fishing village nestled in an open bay on the Atlantic, around thirty kilometres from Cape Town, the water surprised customers by rushing in through the windows.
“I still get goose bumps,” admits Asemahle Daniels, a 26-year-old waitress. Cloth in hand, she takes a break after spending most of Sunday morning mopping up the floor.
On the pier, a handful of curious onlookers watch excitedly as the rollers break against a lighthouse: “You have to see this with your own eyes at least once in your life”, enthuses 44-year-old Yuri Ray.
A rising tide, with an above-average coefficient, can cause “large waves”, Lehlohonolo Thobela, a forecaster at the South African Meteorological Institute, told AFP.
In impressive images widely shared on social networks, the water surging through the streets of several towns near Cape Town washed away bins and parked cars on Saturday.
The National Meteorological Institute has issued a warning for the country’s 3,000 km of coastline until Monday. Emergency services have called for caution and several beaches in the region have been closed.