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WATCH: Edenvale fire victims overwhelmed by donations after losing everything in devastating blaze

10 October, 03:25 PM

Rebecca Mtya and her mother were woken up by screams in the early hours of September 5.

The screams were coming from their neighbour's balcony after a fire broke out at the Hilton Court complex in Eastleigh, Johannesburg, where they lived.

"When I went outside I saw my neighbour hanging from the balcony. He was holding his child as he was hanging," she told News24.

It was the beginning of a month-long nightmare for the family. The fire that broke out in Mtya's neighbour's flat left four units completely destroyed and two devastated families with nothing.

"Our neighbour and his wife had to jump from the third floor to the ground. That was how bad that fire was. At that stage, smoke was already coming through our roof and that's when I knew we had to leave," Mtya said.

Everything lost 

According to Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services spokesperson William Ntladi, firefighters reacted swiftly after the block caught fire.

Despite firefighters' efforts to extinguish the fire, 18-year-old Mtya and her mother Nomathamsanqa Mtya were unable to salvage anything from the devastation.

"All we had left was the clothes on our backs. Nothing else. We lost everything," Nomathamsanqa said.

Community springs into action

The Edenvale community immediately sprang into action.

Thirty-five-year-old Stefanie Schutze knows what it feels like to lose everything in a fire. She took it upon herself to assist the families with as many donations as possible.

Schutze, who owns the Eastleigh German Club with her mother Jean Schutze, suffered the same fate in 2004 after her flat burned down.

"I heard about the fire through a group called Edenvale SOS and I immediately went over there to try and assist the families," she said.

"We lost everything when our house burned down, I know exactly what that feels like and that was one of the reasons why I wanted to help these families," she said.

Schutze used social media to ask for donations of clothing, food and mattresses.

"In a matter of days, the [community] hall was filled to capacity with stuff," she said.

Rebuilding

Mtya and her mother have been moved to a different flat in the complex.

Speaking to News24 from their practically empty new living room, Myta said that she was grateful that the community responded with so much love.

"You never think that something like this can happen to you. When it does, you don't even know where to begin to pick up the pieces, but people come through for us in the most amazing ways."

Mtya and her mother have since received new clothes, food, some basic furniture, as well as some beds, to fill their new flat.

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