WATCH: 'I have nothing now' – Informal settlement residents lose the little they had in Joburg shack fire

2018-08-06 20:40
More than a hundred people have been left homeless after multiple shacks were destroyed in a blaze in Johannesburg on Monday morning. (Supplied, Robert Mulaudzi)

More than a hundred people have been left homeless after multiple shacks were destroyed in a blaze in Johannesburg on Monday morning. (Supplied, Robert Mulaudzi)

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Scenes of heartbreak and confusion played out amid the smoke of the burning shacks at the Kathrada Park informal settlement on Monday. 

Scores of people sat surrounded by the ashes of what used to be their homes and the meagre belongings that they managed to salvage. 

Hundreds of people have been left homeless after multiple shacks were destroyed in the blaze at the informal settlement between Claremont and Newclare, in the west of Johannesburg. 

Johannesburg emergency management services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said firefighters were called to the area at around 04:00.

The fire was allegedly caused by a candle that had been left unattended, he said. No injuries were reported. 

Some residents managed to rescue what remained of their mattresses from the dwellings they used to call home. Fridges stood in the middle of a busy street while children dug in the ashes looking for objects to play with. 

'Somebody must help me'

Between the chaos and scramble, a woman lay helplessly on her mattress with a pile of worn blankets. 

According to residents, the woman suffered from tuberculosis. 

"I didn't take anything. Everything was destroyed in the fire," another resident, Siphamla Sakhamzi, told News24.

Sakhamzi said he was sleeping when the fire broke out in the early hours of Monday morning. 

"I heard people shouting and I woke up, got a bucket and poured water in it. I tried everything to stop the fire, but I ran out of energy."

The only thing left of his home were the bricks used to build the dwelling's foundation. 

His belongings, including his bed, were burnt to ashes. 

"I don't have anything to do now or anywhere to go. I have nothing now. Somebody must help me," Sakhamzi said. 

Another victim, Rorisang Mahlophe, described the incident as a "tragedy".

"We lost most of our things. We were only able to get the most important things like our passports and IDs (identification documents)."

"The fire was too much. Now I don't know, maybe there is [someone] that can help us. We don't have money or anything," he said. 

"The little we had has been completely destroyed".

Ward councillor for the area Susan Stewart said more than 250 people were displaced. 

Stewart said she was in talks with the Department of Housing to find material for the residents to try and rebuild their shacks.

She said a soup kitchen would also be set up to feed the residents.

Victims of the fire would be moved temporarily to the Danie van Zyl Hall in Newlands while officials figured out the next step.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  fire

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