Jika Joe in fear of arson

2014-09-15 00:00

SOME Jika Joe residents spent sleepless nights guarding their homes, as fears spread on the weekend that more shacks would burn down.

This is amid allegations that some homes are set alight on purpose to force the municipality’s hand in allocating temporary housing structures for Jika Joe residents on the waiting list.

Resident Keketso Mpuhu said he stood guard outside his home while his wife and child were sleeping inside, for fear that their homes would be torched.

“There are three incidents that have happened this weekend where residents managed to extinguish flames before it could burn down their houses. I am worried now,” said Mpuhu.

More than 150 shacks burnt down on Friday night as fire engulfed part of the informal settlement — the third in as many weeks.

Now fear has gripped the community that some of the structures are set alight on purpose. Community member Thembinkosi Magagula said the police must investigate these allegations.

“We have suffered enough in recent fires. This needs to be prevented and if they can come and patrol around at night, it will help.

“We are told by the community that there are people who are threatening to burn our shacks,’ said Magagula.

Resident Thobekile Ncobeni said she was with her family when they heard someone shouting that there was a fire at the back part of her shack on Saturday night.

“We managed to put out the fire. About 30 minutes later, another fire started in the toilet. We are scared to sleep now because we don’t now what is happening. In June I also lost everything in a fire.”

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the municipality’s disaster unit is assisting in Jika Joe.

“It is speculated that people are burning the shacks because they want the municipality to finish the prefab buildings residents are supposed to move into,” said Mafumbatha.

She added that they will investigate the claims.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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