Live wire kills second victim

2013-09-23 00:00

A WOMAN trying to get away from yet another fire at the Jika Joe informal settlement was killed at the weekend when she stepped onto one of the many illegal electricity connections running through the area.

When the fire broke out at around 3 am on Saturday, Thabiso Motoung rushed his wife Moshe (36) and seven-month-old baby out of their shack, thinking he was sending them to safety, while he tried to save some of their possessions.

“We were busy trying to save our belongings and I told her to wait outside.”

A short while later he was called outside by a neighbour to rush to his wife’s side. “When I got there, she was on the ground. She had been electrocuted,” he said.

Community leader Thembinkosi Maga­gula said he was called to where Moshe lay.

“She was in a bad way. The people at the scene had called for an ambulance.”

With the ambulance taking some time to arrive, she was rushed to hospital by a resident who owns a bakkie.

“When someone is in that condition, you cannot sit and wait for the ambulance,” said Magagula.

However, their efforts were in vain as Moshe died later that day.

She became the second victim of illegal electrical connections at Jika Joe in less than three months. In July this year, Aviwe Vava (6), of the Eastern Cape, who was visiting her parents at the settlement, slipped and was electrocuted as she grabbed a live wire in an attempt to break her fall.

Saturday’s fire, the second this month, destroyed about 100 shacks and left more than 200 people destitute. On September 8, another fire left about 300 people homeless.

Magagula said they were not sure what had started the fire. “The people suspected of causing the fire left here with a police escort as the community was angry with them. They have not been back since.”

Councillor Nalini Atwaru said they understood that Moshe had stepped on an illegal connection.

“There are many illegal connections here. The municipality knows about them and the community has been warned against them.” She said they were not sure how the fire started. “Some say the fire was started by a candle left burning, which is unlikely as there are many illegal connections there. Others say the fire was started by a hot plate that was left switched on.”

Municipal officials have raided the settlement several times, trying to rid the area of illegal connections. They have removed tons of wire used to make the connections, only for them to replaced as soon as they leave.

Motoung said he and Moshe had left their home in Lesotho about 10 years ago to look for work and had come to live in the settlement.

Married for 16 years, they have six children, five of whom live with their family in Lesotho.

Motoung said he hoped to bury his wife in their homeland.

Residents of the settlement described Moshe’s death as a “tragic loss”.

“She was the nicest and quietest person, who never involved herself in any commotion,” said one of her neighbours.

The soccer field behind the settlement resembled a refugee camp yesterday, with a large part of the grounds dotted with tents housing the victims.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela urged people to refrain from connecting electricity illegally and to report those who make such connections.

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