Shack fire: Rescue fails

2019-09-18 06:01

The Sesing family of Bloem­fontein is battling to come to terms with the death of Itumeleng Moses Sesing (26), who died in raging flames on Monday (16/09) at 03:00.

The victim reportedly burned to death after family members and neighbours were unable to extinguish the fire that engulfed the shack in which he was sleeping.

The one-room shack dwelling is adjacent to the main house in Pieterswart, near Bloemside.

The deceased’s aunt Palesa Sesing said he was trapped inside the shack and they were unable to put out the flames, because there was no water supply to the house.

She said the Mangaung Metro Municipality dis­connected the water supply on Wednesday (11/09) because the deceased’s water account is in arrears. She claims municipal workers disconnected the supply and indicated that R3 805,14 was owed.

“With the help of community members, we managed to put out the flames, but we could not rescue him. By the time the fire was extinguished, Itumeleng had already died. We fetched water elsewhere in the neighbourhood to fight the fire,” said Palesa.

“He was the bread-winner for six people. This includes his child. We are now in a dire situation.

“Seemingly he fell asleep while a pot was on the stove, and the water in the pot dried up, which eventually caused the fire.”

Palesa, who was sleeping in the house with the children, woke up when she heard the loud noise of something bursting. Upon inspection, they realised the shack was on fire.

“It is very painful and sickening to the core that in our new democratic South Africa people are still denied access to the most fundamental necessities like water, because they are failing to pay water bills,” said Kamohelo Thipe, a family member.

“The victim was a bread-winner to those who stayed with him and to his son and now he is gone. If water had not been disconnected completely, we could have rescued Itumeleng.”

Qondile Khedama, spokesperson for the metro, has responded to the incident.

“In terms of our credit control and debt collection policy, a notice for restriction of services (disconnection) is sent to the occupant. In terms of this notice, the consumer is given 14 days to submit representations to council or to settle the arrears or to make payment arrangements in order to get his or her services reconnected.

“In this case, several notices were sent out and none was responded to by the consumer.

“Minimum flow is still available with regards to water when restricted, and only thereafter did the council disconnect the services.

“Therefore, the consumer had multiple opportunities to ensure that his services would not be disconnected.”

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