WATCH | Fire rips through Pietermaritzburg’s Jika Joe informal settlement, again

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Hundreds of residents at Jika Joe informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg were left homeless after their shacks were razed by yet another fire on Wednesday afternoon.

The blaze was suspected to have been caused by an illegal electricity connection. There were no deaths but three children suffered minor burn wounds and were rushed to the nearest clinic.

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Most of the people who lost their homes were also victims of the March fire which destroyed more than 20 shacks. They said they were still in the process of rebuilding their lives when Wednesday’s fire erupted.

Pride Zho, who only managed to escape with her 12-month old son Asanda Abdul and his nappy bag, could not even get to their identity documents before the smoke engulfed her shack.

“I had to get out of there as quickly as I could because my son was already coughing from the smoke and I’m asthmatic,” she said.

Tavern owner Bonisile Thusi lost two fridges, a sound system and more than 30 cases of beer. She was not home when the blaze started and by the time she received the call from her neighbours it was too late to save anything.

jika joe fire
A shack fire erupted in Jika Joe informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday afternoon.
jika joe fire
Jika Joe residents fetching water from the nearby stream to try and quell the flames.
jika joe fire
A shack fire erupted in Jika Joe informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday afternoon

Some of the shack dwellers tried to help the fire fighters by pouring buckets of water over the flames but that did nothing to quell the inferno so they eventually gave up.

Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla was amongst those who  rushed to the scene when news of the fire broke out.

He said all available emergency and rescue resources had been deployed to fight the blaze.

“Our thoughts are with the victims during this terrible ordeal and we are responding with all available resources. Our disaster management teams will work tirelessly to help the affected residents with humanitarian assistance,” said the Mayor.

Thebolla said the electricity supply in the affected vicinity would be switched off and appealed for patience from neighbouring communities.

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