Death and damage: bad luck dogs Northdale widow

2012-05-09 00:00

BAD luck seems to be stalking a widowed Northdale pensioner.

Following the death of her daughter last year, Thoko Ndlela is finding it hard to cope after her home was damaged by fire in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Large parts of Ndlela’s house were left exposed to the elements when the roof caved in following the fire that began when her teenage grandson accidentally knocked over a candle.

Ndlela, her two daughters, and three grandchildren have no other option but to remain in the house.

“The laundry basket in the bedroom where the children were sleeping caught alight and the fire spread to the other rooms,” she said.

Ndlela took early retirement in 2008 due to sickness. Her husband died in 2001.

She told The Witness that the fire had happened at a bad time, and that it was hard for her to cope.

“I’m still paying for my first-born daughter’s funeral,” Ndlela said.

“The pension money I get is too low and I am not working.”

In the early hours of Saturday morning, she said, they tried to put out the fire with the help of neighbours, before calling the fire department.

Three bedrooms, including her own, and the bathroom were damaged.

The house, which still smelled of smoke when The Witness arrived yesterday, was exposed to the elements, but Ndlela said they were lucky that it had not yet rained since the fire.

“We were given sheeting to cover the roof because the water will seep through when it rains,” she said.

“I don’t know how much it will cost to fix the damage, but I heard that the roof alone will be very expensive,” she added.

“I hope that it will eventually get fixed. This is just hard to deal with.”

She said thy were using candles because their electricity had been disconnected by the municipality.

The councillor for Ward 31, Rooksana Ahmed, said that Ndlela would have been assisted with her rates had she approached them in time.

She said that she would encourage her and other pensioners in the ward to apply for rates rebates before the deadline at the end of May.

Of the fire, she said: “It is sad what happened to the woman. What we can do is speak to various stakeholders and see where they can assist.”

Coenie van Heerden of the Pietermaritzburg Benevolent Society told The Witness that they had been helping the family through this tough time.

“They called me on Sunday, and I took some food and blankets to them,” said Van Heerden.

“We’re not a society with a lot of money, but we try to help where we can,” he said.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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