Father of two killed in blaze

2012-05-22 00:00

THE impoverished community of Mkholombe, near Port Shepstone, were rummaging through rubble yesterday after a fire devastated the ­informal settlement at the weekend.

One man was killed in the blaze, which left over 200 people homeless and destroyed about 100 shacks.

The smell of smoke still permeated the air yesterday and the burnt remains told the story of the destructive flames.

Ntombitheni Phehlukwayo (28) lost her husband, Patric Sibusiso (28), and all their belongings in the fire.

“Our two children and I were at my sister’s house when the fire happened. He was stuck inside the house because the fire blocked the door,” Phehlukwayo said.

She has been left destitute with her two sons, Lonwabo (eight) and Sthandiwe (three).

“We are staying now with our friends. I still cannot believe what has happened,” she said.

The fire, which broke out on Saturday night, is believed to have started from a fallen candle.

Hibiscus Coast Municipality (HCM) spokesperson Simon Soboyisa said: “This was a major incident. Fire-fighters battled to extinguish the flames. Back-up fire units had to be called from Margate.”

Soboyisa said 206 people were left destitute. HCM, Red Cross and the Ugu disaster management team handed relief packs to families yesterday.

While delivering food hampers, Soboyisa learnt that another fire had taken place in the area earlier that morning.

“Nine shacks burnt down, but nobody was hurt.”

Another fire at KwaMasinenge destroyed 20 shacks in the early hours of yesterday morning and about 30 people were affected. It is not known what caused the fire.

“No injuries were reported in this incident and Hibiscus Coast Municipality, Ugu District and Red Cross assisted affected people with some relief such as blankets and mattresses,” said Soboyisa.

The municipality was appealing to residents to take extra care when using lighting and heating mechanisms during winter, Soboyisa said.

HCM will be launching an awareness campaign to try to curb the incidence of fires in the informal settlements.

“The municipality will also provide fire extinguishers, to be utilised should a fire break out.”

Soboyisa said Protection Services would train a few members in the settlements in fire-fighting.

Community members should call the 24-hour emergency centre at 039 682 5555 for all emergencies.

“We are also urging businesspeople and all those who are able to, to donate anything that can help those affected by these incidents,” Soboyisa added.

People wishing to make a donation should call the office of the mayor at 039 688 2056 or 039 688 2030.

• witness@feveronline.co.za

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