Fire sparks a dream

2016-09-13 06:00
Siyabonga Norushu has joined SANParks as an environmental monitor. PHOTO: Simphiwe Nkomombini

Siyabonga Norushu has joined SANParks as an environmental monitor. PHOTO: Simphiwe Nkomombini

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After a tragic fire earlier in the year, a Masiphumelele resident is rebuilding his life.

In February, a shack fire near Hokisa Children’s Home resulted in the death 27-year-old Sibusiso Justice Ndevu. His cousin, Siyabonga Norushu, tried to save him from the flames and was injured in the blaze.

However, this tragedy has not stopped the 27-year-old Norushu from completing training with SANParks and taking up employment with the organisation recently.

“I will never forget (the night of the fire) for the rest of my life. It was the most horrible night ever. When I came to the scene the locked shack of my cousin was already in flames,” he says.

“In the beginning we could still hear him crying for help. While others tried to fight the inferno of flames, finally – after some failed efforts – I managed to break open the heated door. The little room was full of smoke and Sibusiso was lying on the floor – burning; not responding anymore. I pulled him out and not much later the fire fighters and ambulance arrived.”

Ndevu died later that night.

Norushu sustained minor burns to his hands but was deeply traumatised by the event. “Most of the pain was inside of me. For almost four weeks I could not sleep. Whenever I closed my eyes, I saw Sibusiso in the flames; I saw him bending over me and asking why I could not save his life. I kept crying like a child and could not work or even leave my shack, as I did not want to see anybody,” he says.

Through the intervention of friends and community workers, Norushu was finally able to receive counselling and talk about his experience, enabling him to again take up his training.

His appointment as an environmental monitor has been the realisation of a dream Norushu has held for many years.

“When I still attended the Ndyebo High School in Port Elizabeth we had lessons in tourism and that inspired me to train in this direction in the Western Cape,” he says.

“Once I had arrived in Masi in 2014, I applied to do a practical at SANParks. I was accepted and first learned about the general maintenance of nature. I did this again in 2015 and later started training to become an environmental monitor.”

This job will see him focusing mainly on monitoring the nature at Cape Point National Park. “This is especially important after the big fires we had recently to protect endangered plants and animals.”

Norushu hopes his appointment will inspire other youth in Masiphumelele.

“I hope my story can encourage other young people not to give up when life is tough. We must never give up being strong. If you just sit at home, nothing will ever change.”

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