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‘It felt like an earthquake’: Storm uproots old oak tree at Helen Zille’s birthday dinner

A birthday celebration for DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille almost saw the roof come crashing down, as a tree was uprooted at the venue at which she and her husband were dining.


A birthday celebration for DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille almost saw the roof come crashing down, as a tree was uprooted at the venue at which she and her husband were dining.

  • Strong winds uprooted a tree at a restaurant where DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille celebrated her birthday.
  • A cold front brought strong winds and heavy rains to Cape Town and surrounding areas on Tuesday.
  • No one was injured in the incident and there was minor damage to the property.

The roof almost came crashing down at a Cape Town restaurant on Tuesday evening as DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille and her husband celebrated her birthday.

In a social media post, Zille said: “While my husband and I were having dinner at the venue where we got married, the wind brought this 300-year-old oak tree crashing down. It felt like an earthquake as it ripped through the roof and shattered glass. Fortunately, no one was in its direct path. Adventurous celebration!”

READ | Storm knocks out Eskom infrastructure, leaves some Western Cape suburbs without electricity

The couple dined at the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, Zille told News24.

“My husband and I got married at the old Hohenort Hotel (before it became the spectacular Cellars-Hohenort). So, on very special occasions, we go back there, as we did for dinner last night,” she said.

“The tree is so large and so old that the entire restaurant was built around it. It is enclosed in a thick glass casing… a few metres from where we were sitting. The tree itself towers above the restaurant, but the trunk cracked in full view, through the glass, due to the strain the wind in the branches above was putting on it,” Zille added.

A birthday celebration for DA federal council chai

A birthday celebration for DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille almost saw the roof come crashing down, as a tree was uprooted at the venue at which she and her husband were dining.

The tree fell over the main roof of the hotel and cracked a skylight in the lounge area, Zille said.

“Luckily for us, the wind was blowing in the opposite direction from where we were sitting, but unfortunately, [the tree] went crashing over the main roof of the hotel,” she said.

No one was injured, Zille added.

The hotel group, the Liz McGrath Collection, confirmed the incident, saying that weather conditions in Cape Town caused some damage to The Cellars-Hohenort hotel.

“An oak tree in the open courtyard of The Conservatory restaurant, estimated to be 300 years old, was badly damaged by high winds. But fortunately it fell away from the building, resulting in minor damage only. Service to diners and hotel guests continued uninterrupted. Some cracked skylights are being repaired but the hotel and its restaurants are open and it is business as usual,” the hotel group said in a statement.

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