Mystery in sky causes tizz in Kloof

SCARY AND EXCITING: Jaco Wagner, of Onverwags Farm in the Cambria area, saw a bright light and felt an impact that made the house shake. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
SCARY AND EXCITING: Jaco Wagner, of Onverwags Farm in the Cambria area, saw a bright light and felt an impact that made the house shake. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

UFO or meteorite? Residents in the Baviaanskloof area are wondering what on earth – or not of this earth – the object was that hurtled across the night sky and plummeted to the ground, causing their homes to shake on Sunday night.

A team from the Kouga Municipality will continue a search tomorrow for the mysterious object, strongly believed to be a meteorite, that fell from the sky.

People from Jeffreys Bay, Patensie, Uitenhage and Loerie said they saw what looked like a huge fireball or shooting star flying through the sky at about 9pm.

It illuminated the sky, unsettled pets, and caused doors and windows in homes to rattle and vibrate.

Residents in Cambria said the unidentified flying object had also caused objects to fall over in their homes and compared the impact as it hit the ground to a huge explosion or cannon being fired.

After receiving various reports about a possible meteor falling, Kouga Municipality sent a small team in two double-cab bakkies yesterday morning to investigate.

Residents directed them to a kloof area near the small farming area of Cambria, outside Patensie.

But they were unable to access the site by vehicle and were forced to abandon their search in the afternoon.

Municipal spokeswoman LauraLeigh Randall said the team members were looking at possibly continuing their search tomorrow.

“A helicopter would be ideal but that would require special permission as it is a protected nature conservation area,” Randall said.

Jaco Wagner, who lives in Cambria, said he was outside his home with his father, Basi, at about 8.50pm on Sunday.

“We were sitting and talking, and all of a sudden there was a bright light in the sky. It was almost like the sun was coming out,” he said.

“It was almost like a bright blue or turquoise light and then it was not dark anymore.”

Wagner immediately ran into the house to call his mother, Estie.

“Glasses in the cupboards were falling over and the whole house was shaking,” he said.

“By the time we got back outside, it [the mystery object] had fallen and we felt the impact.

“We did not know what it was, so it was scary and exciting at the same time.

“Nothing ever happens in Cambria,” Wagner said.

“We actually have a saying that every 60 minutes nothing happens.”

Estie said: “At Cockscombe Primary School, an 11-year-old boy said the family’s goats got scared and he had to go fetch them.

“He said he saw a bright light as well.”

Another Cambria resident, Arno Streso, said he believed the suspected meteor may have landed on a stretch of his 400ha farm.

“We all felt the impact so I think it landed somewhere on the mountain and that impact carried all the way to our house because everything was vibrating,” he said.

“It should be found because people need to know exactly what it is.”

Helene van der Watt said her staff were standing outside, 200m from her house, when the object hit the ground. “The doors and windows rattled and the dogs were all barking, so I went to the workers,” Van der Watt said.

“They said they saw a bright light, as if it was daylight, and then they heard something like an explosion or a cannon ball being fired.

“I think noise and light can be misleading so it could have landed anywhere.”

Hilda Ferreria said she was watching television with her husband, Espie, in their Patensie home when they heard a strange rattling sound in their house.

“It sounded like shaking and then all of a sudden it just stopped,” she said.

Retired astronomer Case Rijsdijk, a member of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (Assa), said the Leonid meteor shower would peak later this month.

He said: “It is unlikely this is the Leonid meteor shower because the particles are tiny, as small as match heads.

“The shower peaks around November 17 so it is still a bit early.

“It will take place between November 12 and 21.”

Assa said in a statement that the South Taurid meteor shower – well known for having a high percentage of fireballs or exceptionally bright meteors – reached its peak between midnight and dawn on November 5.

It was caused by a dust trail that was left behind by a comet, the astronomical society said.

-Lee-Anne Butler

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