It's Monday 29 September 1969 around 10pm. Little did they know, but the lives of people living in and around Tulbagh were about to change when this quiet little town situated in the dry Karoo region in South Africa was hit by 6.5 earthquake that was felt for hundreds of kilometres.
This earthquake, the largest recorded quake to strike a populated area in southern Africa at the time, left nine people dead and virtually every building suffered extensive structural damage.
Standard Bank’s building in the town was declared unsafe. However, there was a need for people to secure their money or get money to start rebuilding their lives. Within 48 hours of the quake there was a teller on duty operating from a van that Standard Bank used to take to agricultural shows in the country. A day or two later a caravan was brought in so that more Standard Bank staff could start helping residents.
Both vehicles were parked outside the branch building (as can be seen in the picture). The safest part of the bank building was the strong room and a few staff members chose to work there. The other side of the premises was in danger of collapse as the adjacent wall of the hotel was threatening to give way and bring the bank’s wall down with it.
Within a few days, a committee for the restoration of the historical buildings in Tulbagh and its surroundings was formed. Standard Bank donated R5 000 to the Boland Earthquake Relief Fund.
This is not the first time we’ve helped out in times of disaster in South Africa. In the early 1990s were on hand to help the residents of Merriespruit in Free State province make claims after they lost their homes and possessions when a dam wall broke.