Several left homeless

2019-05-02 06:01
Affected residents rummage through the charred remains of their homes on Friday morning. PHOTO: Velani Ludidi

Affected residents rummage through the charred remains of their homes on Friday morning. PHOTO: Velani Ludidi

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A fire destroyed 12 homes leaving over 20 people homeless in New Village, Nomzamo.

The fire started around 21:00 last Thursday (25 April) when people were preparing to sleep. Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services, said the cause of the fire is unknown.

“Firefighters were called out to informal structures alight last night just after 21:30 in New Village, Nomzamo. Three fire engines, two water tankers, a rescue vehicle, and 21 staff members were dispatched to the incident,” he said.

“The fire was extinguished just before 23:00. No injuries have been reported.”

Resident Nomamkele Tshingana was left with only the clothes she was wearing at the time of the inferno. “We do not really know how the fire started; it came from the back house,” she said.

“We suspect the electrical wires must have been faulty because it has caused small fires in the past. Many people here are unemployed and have lost their belongings. We will receive building material, but it is never enough, we need assistance with other goods as well.”

On Friday morning, affected residents cleared charred remains in preparation for rebuilding once they receive starter kits from council. Tabisa Vuntu (26), a mother of a 13-month-old baby, said she does not know where to turn for assistance. “I managed to save important documents, but the food I bought for the baby last night went up in flames. It’s just me and my child; this is going to be a long month for us. Any help that I get now would really be appreciated.”

Community leader Mzimasi Ngcilitshana said firefighters were quick to react to the community’s call. “They were quick to arrive here, or else more houses would have burnt down. There are families with children who lost school uniforms in the fire – it is really sad. Just a month ago there was another fire not far from here.”

The area is part of council’s electrification project, which is set be complete in September. It is not clear when the installation will be done in this section of New Village, but Ngcilitshana hopes it will be son, for fear of more fires occurring. “We have open electrical wires here, which causes fires. We cannot wait until our area gets electricity, so that we can be safe. At the moment, everyone is worried because you never know when a fire can start.”

Local ward councillor Simthembile Mfecane sympathised with the affected families. “It is sad what happened in this community, but what’s even sadder is that businesses that would have assisted in such situations were looted in the recent unrest in the community,” he said.

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