UMkhonto veteran dies in fire

2016-11-10 06:00
Nonqaba Xamle, spokesperson at Sizamile Independently Owned Senior Citezens centre, in Langa, on Monday.  PHOTOS: mBONGISENI Maseko

Nonqaba Xamle, spokesperson at Sizamile Independently Owned Senior Citezens centre, in Langa, on Monday. PHOTOS: mBONGISENI Maseko

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UMkonto we Sizwe (MK) veteran Slulami Raymond Gqokoma,60, burnt to death in his sleep on Saturday after his room caught fire.

He was a resident at the Sizamile Independently Owned Senior Citizens Centre in Langa.

It is alleged that was sleeping when his room caught fire.

Nonqaba Xamle, spokesperson for the centre, alleged that Gqokoma had arrived back from a shebeen intoxicated, and then had sent a child to buy him cigarettes at about 12 noon.

“He came back drunk from a shebeen. We suspect that he slept while smoking a cigarette and that his mattress then caught fire. We watched him burning to death helplessly. The residents are all traumatised after the incident. They need to get counselling. We would like to thank residents who came and helped extinguish the fire before it could spread to other rooms,” Xamle said.

Xamle also said one resident was still being treated for smoke-inhalation at Tygerberg Hospital by Monday.

Leticia Nomzi Vaphi, chairperson at the centre, said they were devastated by the incident.

Vaphi said Gqokoma was an MK veteran who travelled to many countries during the Apartheid era, fighting for the liberation of the country.

She said he came back to the country and stayed in Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape.

He then moved to the city and stayed with his sister, but she was not sure about the years.

“He then stayed on the streets in Cape Town after he had a misunderstanding with his sister in Khayelitsha. He then came and stayed at the centre for a few years before he moved to Woodstock.

People from the MK Veterans office promised him a house in Mfuleni, to no avail.

He had already given-up on getting the house, because he said he has been waiting for many years. We feel very painful. He was a vocal person who loved attention. Everyone can notice that he is no longer here,” Vaphi said.

Lelethu Gqokoma, a nephew, said the family would only comment after an autopsy had revealed the true identity of the man the centre claimed was his uncle.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Langa police Captain Nondumiso Paul said they were investigating arson.

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