Fire leaves scores homeless

Some of the shacks that were ravaged by the fire on Thursday morning last week in Kosovo.
Some of the shacks that were ravaged by the fire on Thursday morning last week in Kosovo.

At least 36 shacks were destroyed and seven damaged in two separate fire incidents at Kosovo informal settlement, Samora Machel, in less than seven days.

More than 90 people left homeless as a result.

The first incident occurred on Thursday morning 5 November, at B section. About 30 shacks were gutted and five damaged. In a second incident, on Tuesday morning 10 November another six shacks ravaged by fire and two were damaged.

The cause of both fires is unknown.

Victim Thozama Khawulezile said she lost everything. “I was sleeping when I heard people outside shouting ‘Fire! Fire! Fire!’” she related. “I was wearing only a night dress. I jumped out of bed and grabbed my 7-year-old child and ran outside.”

She said she was unable to get all her belongings out because of big flames. “All my documents, including my child’s birth certificate, clothes and my identity documents burnt too,” she said.

Khawulezile urged the City to relocate people to brick houses. “We need houses, or the City must move us to the TRAs (Temporary Relocation Areas) in Mfuleni,” she said. “The shacks here are so dense it is difficult to take out your belongings when there is fire.”

Mandlelisweni Tshoka (77), who lost her shack in the second incident, said she didn’t know what to do. She added she had woken up around 02:00, and there was smoke inside the shack. “I managed to escape with another grandchild. I lost everything in the fire,” said Tshoka.

Ward 88 proportional representation councillor Patrick Ngqu said the City has provided shack fire victims with building material to rebuild. He said about 217 shacks are set to move to New Woodlands, in Mitchell’s Plain.

“The City has already finished the infrastructure,” Ngqu said. “The construction of the houses is expected to start soon.” He couldn’t specify when exactly, though.

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