A decade later, fires still cause havoc

2018-06-14 06:02
Fire victim Mziyanda Koti is being assisted by neighbours in rebuilding his shack.PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

Fire victim Mziyanda Koti is being assisted by neighbours in rebuilding his shack.PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

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Another weekend, another fire. This time it was the Thabo Mbeki informal settlement.

And residents say they have had it “up-to-here” with these fires that take life and raze property to the ground.

When City Vision visited the area, they made their intentions known, loud and clear.

They threatened to take to the streets to demand housing.

This after a woman died in the latest shack fire last Saturday.

Two shacks burned down, leaving 10 people homeless and deprived of possessions.

The cause of the fire was still unknown at the time of going to press.

Ward 35 councillor Mboniswa Chitha said the City has already provided the victims with the material to rebuild their shacks.

He stated that the process of housing development in the area was still unclear.

“Thabo Mbeki rests on private land.

“So, the City and the land owner are still negotiating in an effort to buy that land for housing development because some residents do not want to relocate from there,” he said.

One of the fire victims, Mziyanda Koti, said the fire startedat about 03:00.

“I was woken by the cries of our baby ... I asked my wife to make a bottle for her. While we were still awake, I smelled smoke. Later I heard my neighbour’s girlfriend screaming for help,” said Koti.

Jumping out, he was met by a neighbour shouting for help.

“I asked my wife to leave with the kids whilst I moved the car away. My neighbour’s girlfriend was still screaming inside, but we were unable to save her because the flames were too big,” he said.

Koti said he lost everything in the fire.

“My baby is only a week old. I’ve lost all her clothes, including nappies and the clothes for the older children. We are only left with the clothes on our bodies,” said the father of four.

Koti alleged that their neighbours were alcoholics who were prone to fight whenever they hit the bottle.

“It’s not the first that we’ve had to put out a fire from their shack,” he said.

Ndimphiwe Mbusi said they have been staying in the area for over a decade, but there has been no development.

“We need houses, if the City fails to do so we will take to the streets ... to their offices in the Civic Centre,” said Mbusi.

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