The Theron family in the Free State used a motorboat to cross their farm following recent rains. Photo: Willem van der Berg/
  • After years of drought, and massive fires last year, farmers in the north-western part of the Free State saw widespread flooding in the first weeks of 2021.
  • On one farm, the owners were forced to travel by motorboat after the flooding created a 100-hectare “brown lake” on their property.
  • While some farmers welcome the rain, the flooding destroyed some maize plantations in the area.
  • For more articles, go to

Heavy rains in the first two weeks of 2021 triggered flooding in parts of the Free State, with some farmers losing crops and equipment.

Tropical storm Chalane, which moved in from Madagascar, contributed to the massive amounts of rain that fell in the province, as well as in the Northern Cape and North West.

Some 450mm fell since 22 December between Bultfontein, Hoopstad and Wesselsbron in the Free State, while Netwerk24 reports that the area between Hoopstad and Bloemhof received 140mm in less than two days at the start of last week.

The 374km2 Gariep Dam in the Free State, which has the largest storage capacity in SA, was 99% full last week – compared to 65% a year ago.

While the rain was mostly welcomed in the north-western Free State after the 2013 to 2018 drought, as well as massive fires last year which destroyed 100,000 hectares of farmland, it has caused large losses as well.

Some farmers have lost their houses, and much of their plantings, in the floods.

The farm Memel in the area was completely waterlogged, with its owners forced to use a motorboat to view the destruction on the fields.

The owners, the Theron family, took a video that show the scale of the flood destruction: reported that the rain created a "brown lake" of almost 100 hectares on the farm, which flooded buildings and silos with maize, wheat and sunflowers, and destroyed machinery, stocks of fertiliser, as well as two vehicles.

Flooding destroyed buildings and vehicles on one Free State farm. Photo: Willem van der Berg/
Flooding created a "brown lake" of almost 100 hectares on Memel farm in the Free State. Photo: Willem van der Berg/

According to Dawie Theron, owner of the farm, it was the worst flooding he has ever experienced – much worse than the previous flood in 1988. reports that while the flooding brought losses to grain farmers, with some maize plantings already destroyed, cattle farmers in the are thankful as the wet conditions are helping to restore the fire-ravaged fields.

Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.