False weather warnings can land you in seriously hot water

A building and vehicle damaged by the severe storm that hit Roodepoort this week. (Photo: Supplied)

Feel the urge to send or share that severe weather warning you received on one of your social media platforms?

Think twice. This week saw justified widespread panic due to severe weather conditions which included tornadoes, not only on the West Rand, but also in KwaZulu-Natal. But few people know that, regardless of your good intentions, issuing an unverified severe weather warning is a criminal offence.

Also Read: Hail devastation leaves several roads closed

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) is a government agency governed by certain laws. According to the South African Weather Service Amendment Act 38 of 2013, “no person may publish, disseminate or distribute in any manner whatsoever any severe weather warning which he or she knows, believes or ought to have reasonably known or suspected to be false or misleading; or may incite public reaction which may lead to the undue mobilisation of resources, public alarm or evacuations or economic loss arising from such actions”.

In other words, before disseminating a warning, it must be verified by the SAWS.

Should a person not comply with this law he or she can be fined R5 million or sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for a first offence, and R10 million or ten years’ imprisonment for a second offence.

To verify any severe weather warnings you might receive, visit SAWS’ website at www.weathersa.co.za, phone them on 012 367 6000 or follow them on Facebook or Twitter (@SAWeatherService)

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at [email protected] (remember to include your contact details) or phone us on 011 955 1130.

For free daily local news on the West Rand, also visit our sister newspaper websites 

Randfontein Herald

Krugersdorp News 

Get It Joburg West Magazine

Remember to visit our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages to let your voice be heard!

Riaan van Zyl

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