Family praises ‘brave’ neighbours

2018-06-19 06:00
This is what was left of Lugmag Avenue resident Jerome Moses’s shack after it was destroyed by a fire that also took his life on Wednesday last week.PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

This is what was left of Lugmag Avenue resident Jerome Moses’s shack after it was destroyed by a fire that also took his life on Wednesday last week.PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

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The family of a 46-year-old man who lost his life after a fire engulfed his Lugmag Avenue backyard shack last Wednesday (13 June) is in awe of the local community.

Jerome Moses’s mother and brother both commended their neighbours’ heroic efforts.

The neighbours and other members of the community tried to save Moses’s life in the early hours of Wednesday morning. They did not stop there. The residents battled the fire and successfully prevented it from spreading to the main house, saving for the family a litany of valuable items.

“I don’t even know who did it because there were so many, they cleared my whole house. Some of them were on the roof trying to kill the fire. This community is so good, you wouldn’t believe what they did this morning. I never knew they could do something like this, I didn’t expect it, but I saw it this morning. I say thank you,” says Moses’s mother, Johanna Petersen (64).

She says as devastating as the death of her eldest son is, she is trying to remain resolute. “He was always helping here in the house. He was always helpful. When I come back from work, the floors were clean, the kitchen was clean. That is the kind of person he was,” says Petersen.

Her younger son, Gaben, says: “If it wasn’t for the community, the (main) house would have burnt down. My wendyhouse did not burn because my neighbours were quick, they saved a lot of my belongings,” says Gaben.

A visibly distraught Gaben relives the incident. He remembers being woken up by the sound of cats crying at about 01:30. He did not pay much attention, because it was common for the cats to make this noise.

However, it was when he heard his brother’s screams that he realised something was wrong. “I ran to his room and when I got there I kicked the door down. It was just flames in the room and I could not get in. He was shouting ‘help, help!’”

His mother had woken up and together they shouted at Moses to get out. Gaben ran and summoned some of his neighbours and then the fire brigade. The neighbours’ response was swift and suddenly they were battling the fire. Emergency teams eventually arrived and Moses was certified dead.

Police are investigating the cause of the fire, but Gaben suspects a lit candle could have caused it. He says he had on many occasions warned his brother about leaving a candle burning at night.

Kensington police spokesperson, Sergeant Angeline Grill, says: “We can confirm a fire took place at about 02:00 and an inquest has been opened and is being investigated by Warrant Officer Donovan de Vries. We express our sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and would also like to take the opportunity to ask people to use caution around any open flame.”

Gaben describes his brother as a helpful man who was loved by the community.

A family friend, who asked not to be named, shared her fond memories of Moses. “He was a very beautiful child, he was well mannered, he had respect for the elders, he had everything that you wish for in a child,” she said.

Benina Isaacs, a neighbour, said: “He was a very kind, generous and sweet guy. He never worked but never hustled anyone.”


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