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Cape town - Two more deadly fires have left families devastated, as the city’s disaster management centre revealed that 50 people have died in fire-related incidents in Cape Town this year.
In the latest incidents at the weekend, two people died in separate fires in Khayelitsha and Heideveld.
Nkosi Dywane, 29, was burnt beyond recognition when the shack he was looking after in Khayelitsha caught alight early on Sunday. The structure, which belonged to his cousin Siya Dlamini, was destroyed. It is not known how the fire started.
Dlamini said Dywane had been house-sitting for him on Saturday.
“I was woken up by a phone call to tell me my place was on fire,” he said. “I was sleeping at my cousin’s when I got the call.”
A shocked Dlamini said he had not returned to his shack after work on Saturday night because it was too late. He said he had been too afraid to walk home alone.
Dywane’s older brother, Jabulani Christopher Mavundla, said it was a very sad time for him.
“I lost my other brother in May and now I have to say goodbye to my younger brother,” he said.
He said they would now have to return home to KwaZulu-Natal to lay their brother to rest.
“He lived here since 2004 and we never thought anything like this would happen to him,” he said.
Dube Vorster, a cousin who lives a few houses away, said he had been called to the scene by neighbours soon after the fire started.
“When we got here the neighbours said they heard noises outside but they were too scared to go and look because they thought there were ‘skollies’ trying to rob the house,” he said.
Dywane’s death came 24 hours after a 30-year-old Heideveld man died after a fire broke out in his wendy house. Gregory Visagie died of severe burn wounds. The fire gutted six backyard wendy houses in the area, leaving 10 people destitute.
Those affected received food and building material from the city.
Disaster risk management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the causes of the fires were unknown at this stage and that police had opened inquest dockets.
There had been 50 fire-related deaths in the city since January, seven of them in August.
However, this number was much lower compared with last year, when 81 deaths were recorded during the same period, he said.
“The main cause of fires is people leaving open flames and fires unattended and not extinguishing candles, lamps and paraffin stoves,” Solomons-Johannes said.
They also did not isolate and/or switch off electrical appliances before going to bed, sometimes under the influence of alcohol, he said.
Solomons-Johannes said the city’s community halls were available for emergency shelter and that disaster response teams were always at hand to immediately distribute relief aid including food, blankets and building material.
“Residents must take responsibility for their own safety and the city through its public awareness campaigns tries to inculcate a culture of risk avoidance,” he said.
Solomons-Johannes said the city’s disaster risk management centre conducted continuous public awareness campaigns in communities to highlight the dangers of fires.