WATCH | Residents pick up the pieces after fire leaves 900 destitute in Kempton Park

2019-10-01 19:38

About 900 people were left homeless after a fire razed nearly 200 shacks in Kempton Park on Monday night. Now, residents of the Pomona informal settlement in Johannesburg are picking up the pieces.

"The situation is getting calmer and calmer," Ekurhuleni emergency services' William Tladi told News24.

"We are all still on site. The reconstruction of shacks has begun," he said.

Martin de Villiers, 57, who lives in Bonaero Park which is a few kilometres from the informal settlement, witnessed the devastation first-hand.

A little after 19:00, his phone started buzzing with notifications from a community WhatsApp group.

"We have a group and it reported that there was a fire. Our domestic worker stays in the informal settlement," he said.

Worried, De Villiers and his wife, Suzette, made attempts to get in touch with their helper, Khumbu Nguira.

"We tried to get a hold of her for a while and we only got hold of her at around about 20:30."

Nguira lost everything. When the fire started she had just taken a bath and was getting ready for bed.

She made her escape carrying only a handbag and the clothes on her back.

Roads surrounding and leading into Pomona were blocked off.

"The whole of Great North [Road] was blocked off with fire engines, the police, and everything," De Villiers said.

It took the couple a while before they could reach Nguira to give her water, food and place to stay.

"It's just very sad," De Villiers said.

According to Ekurhuleni emergency services spokesperson Aaron Mafunda, no deaths have been reported despite the extent of the blaze.

It is still unclear how or where the fire started.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  fires
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