Just as police, emergency services and government officials were preparing for the worst, the cyclone was downgraded to ex-Dineo as it made its way towards Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
“It’s now called ex-Dineo. It’s now [been classified as] a tropical depression, which means winds have dropped significantly to speeds of about 51-62km/h,” said SA Weather Service forecaster Wayne Venter.
The tropical system reached cyclone status on Wednesday afternoon just before it made landfall in Mozambique, near Massinga, north of Inhambane, but the winds significantly weakened.
Cyclones are associated with more destructive winds of more than 100km/h.
Dineo was expected to dissipate in the region of Musina and Beitbridge on Friday and drift towards eastern Botswana by Saturday.
The SA Weather Service satellite estimates suggested that up to 200mm of rainfall lashed Inhambane on the coast of Mozambique after Dineo made landfall.
The weather service said strong winds, exceeding 100km/h, torrential rainfall and very rough seas were most likely the main weather-related effects.
Fragments of roof, twisted corrugated iron, trees snapped in half and stranded dolphins were among the sights that greeted residents in parts of Mozambique yesterday after an overnight pummelling from Cyclone Dineo.
Property owners were left with the hard work of cleaning up debris in and around Inhambane.
Bonito Bay holiday resort owner Russel Edmunds posted pictures on Facebook of downed trees and a bakkie parked under a collapsed thatched roof in Morrungulo.
Eight dolphins, including two juveniles, died in Inhassoro.
Derek Flaxman of Cashew-Bay Lodge shared a video of a small rescue party splashing water on the beached animals.
“I went to put our beach light on about 1.30am and I heard a noise. I didn’t know what it was and went down to the beach. A pod of 16 dolphins, including two babies, were stranded on the beach,” he said.
Flaxman and his wife Wendy could not move the creatures back to sea alone.
“We got a team of about six people together and we got some tarpaulins and rolled the dolphins back to sea, taking them into chest-high water.
Unfortunately, they were so disoriented they kept swimming back on to the beach, he said.