Fire devours five kids

2018-06-07 06:01
Five children died in a shack fire in Messiah informal settlement over the weekend.PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

Five children died in a shack fire in Messiah informal settlement over the weekend.PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

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Following the death of five young children in a fire tragedy on Saturday, displeased dwellers in Messiah, an informal settlement in Samora Machel, have heaped the blame squarely on the shoulders of the City of Cape Town.

The five perished as a fire ravaged about six shacks, causing extensive damage to property, and displacing about 20 families.

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

Miliswa Filtani (43), escaped with minor burn wounds to her body, but her four children succumbed to the flames.

Her children Siyahluma (13), Mzuvukile (12), including twins Lithemba and Lunje Tyhalani (16 months), all perished in the fire.

Lunathi Filtana (11), her sister Lindiwe’s child, was the fifth victim of the fire.

Shack fires seem to be in the increase in the Cape, with tragic consequences.

On Thursday 10 May, City Vision (Khayelitsha edition) reported on a raging fire that took the lives of eight family members, in Site C, that included a gogo and seven other minors. They were buried last Saturday in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape.

In the latest incident, Filtani, a spaza shop owner, was admitted to hospital, but lost all her children.

Lindiwe Filtani (33), who stays in Marikana, in Lower Crossroads, said she received a call that night informing her about the tragedy.

She regrets the arrangement between her and Lunathi’s father, that the boy be dropped at her sister Miliswa on Fridays.

“He normally stays in Mfuleni with his father, but this Friday was the last they saw of each other.

“When I received a call that there was a fire in Messiah, it never crossed my mind that it was about our children dying in a fire.

“On arrival, I asked for the children and no one answered me. I knew then that something bad had happened,” Filtani says.

Neighbours said the fire started closer to the front door and spread to the whole shack.

Zenzile Kosanim, a residents, said he was asleep when he heard people shout “Fire, fire”.

He jumped out of bed and saw flames driven by the wind.

“We tried to extinguish the fire using water from our houses but we failed ... When we ran to fetch water from the communal tap, it was dry.”

Even as they tried to pry open the doors of the shack using crowbars, but failed.

He described the incident as traumatic.

“We heard children screaming for help inside. Their mother escaped through the window in an effort to call the community for help but no one could go back again to rescue her children,” he says.

Kosani says, already, there have been five fire incidents in the area this year.

“We don’t have electricity here. We don’t have water. The communal tap is non-functional, as water comes out in dribs and drabs. The only other tap is about 45 metres away from us.”

Ward 88 councillor Siphiwo Nqamnduku says the settlement was on private land.

“The housing project will only commence in 2020. First the City needs to identify land before people invade open spaces,” he says.

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